Are you increasingly seeing things on your Facebook wall or in your Instagram rolls from the accounts you don’t follow? It seems like even more of them will soon be appearing.
As Facebook lost 21% of its value between 2019 and 2020 and Meta presented its financial report for the second quarter of 2022, the results did not delight with the obvious growth slowdown in social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram), and consequently, profits for the company are getting smaller. That’s more than any other company during this period. Such a situation did not placate Mark Zuckerberg and his company, so the billionaire decided to act. He planned significant changes that would significantly affect the app user experience. What are these? What can users expect in the upcoming months?
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Meta will learn from TikTok.
One of the main directions the company’s authorities will take is to show users more of the things they are not actually following. Until now, about 15% of the content displayed to Internet users on Facebook came from creators outside the following list.
Mark Zuckerberg is announcing the creation of what he described as a “Discovery Engine,” an advanced artificial intelligence that will be responsible for the content that Facebook and Instagram users display. With this, his company wants to emulate TikTok, which has been the most downloaded mobile app for several years.
The algorithm will suggest videos, photos and other posts that it thinks users will like. This means you’re more likely to see random videos of animals or recipes from influencers than posts from any of your distant aunts like you used to.
As Meta is trying to copy the success of TikTok, there is also another giant growing out of nowhere. Yes, the talk is about BeReal. We’ve seen some first tries of TikTok answering its new competitor and developing a new feature focused on taking pictures in real time after getting a notification. Will Meta do the same? I guess we will see in the future.
Short video forms are taking over.
In the new version of the platform, any public video shorter than 15 minutes that you give on Instagram will now be automatically shared and recommended and watched by more people.
If you are already tired of random videos you are getting on TikTok, Meta will give you even more of everything. Some people already experience it, but in the nearest future, If you want to see what your friends or people you’re actually interested in (and follow) are up to, you’ll have to open another tab called “Following,” which won’t be the default home screen.
And that’s not all! There are many signs that Messenger will become an integral part of the Facebook app, with an inbox placed at the top of the interface and an incentive to send messages to your friends.
Consumption instead of communication
Meta’s changes emphasise algorithm-based engagement, that is, consumption, rather than communication. Critics pointed out that Meta’s ultimate goal is becoming to increase clicks for advertisers rather than fostering genuine social interactions among users. In a staff memo, the company highlighted the importance of users sharing videos they’ve watched with each other, which can generate more ad revenue. However, users may feel frustrated by the overwhelming amount of content that is unrelated to their interests or preferences.
This is a clear change from what Facebook originally wanted to achieve, which was to connect users with friends and family in an online social environment. More and more experts admit it’s “the end of the social networking era”.
What About privacy?
Meta’s new approach raises questions about users’ privacy, as the Discovery Engine will need to access more data to provide personalised recommendations. Users may have to consent to more tracking and data sharing, which could lead to more targeted ads and potential data breaches. Some may also feel uncomfortable with the idea that their activity and preferences are being monitored and used for commercial purposes.
In conclusion, Facebook and Instagram users should brace themselves for significant changes in their app experience as Meta shifts towards a more algorithm-driven, entertainment-focused model. While some users may appreciate discovering new content and creators, others may find the overwhelming amount of unrelated material to be overwhelming and intrusive. Privacy concerns also loom large, as users may have to trade more personal data for more personalised recommendations. Ultimately, Meta’s success will depend on striking the right balance between engagement and privacy and providing a satisfying user experience that aligns with users’ preferences and values.
About the author: Magdalena Sadowska, the Community Manager of PhotoAiD. With a background in psychology, she is fascinated by how people interact and create their reality. As a travel enthusiast, given a choice of sea or mountains, she chooses both.