Some big changes are coming to Facebook. Apparently some users have been very naughty and need to be punished. In the Simply Print February 2018 Blog, we dissect how the Facebook changes will effect you, particularly if you have a business page. 

Over the past few weeks, Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has announced a series of big changes to the social media site that will impact user’s news feeds. Some of these changes include prioritising “trustworthy” news as well as cutting back on public posts that people see in their feeds. Here’s how some of the changes will affect you.

What are the changes?

Well for starters, you’re going to see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.

That means you’ll see fewer news items, and those that you do see will more likely be “trustworthy”.

There will also be an emphasis on local news sources.

Mark Zuckerberg has suggested Facebook will continue to fight fake news by using member surveys to identify high-quality outlets and fight sensationalism and misinformation.

What’s sparked the changes?

The quality of news on Facebook has been questioned after alleged Russian operative spammers and others spread false reports on the site, including during the 2016 US election campaign.

Facebook admitted in September that an operation likely based in Russia spent $100,000 on thousands of ads promoting divisive social and political messages over a two-year-period.

Mr Zuckerberg said he expects recently announced changes to shrink the amount of news on Facebook by 20 per cent.

It will also affect news stories that you share.

You may also get to have a say in the trustworthiness of a news outlet after Mr Zuckerberg announced he will use member surveys to identify high-quality outlets.

“We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective,” Mr Zuckerberg wrote in his post, rejecting the idea that the company rank news outlets’ trustworthiness itself.

However, the move is likely to have a huge impact on the media landscape in nearly every country.

Facebook said that ranking by trustworthiness was not intended to directly impact any specific groups of publishers based on their size or ideology.

Click baiters beware.

Click bait, says Facebook, is defined as when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see.

You won’t be seeing so many of these click bait posts any more because Facebook has changed its algorithm rules to make it more difficult for them to show in news feeds. Unfortunately stories with ‘click-bait’ headlines can drown out content from friends and pages that people really care about.

So they will now measure how long people spend outside of Facebook when clicking on a link, and whether people then like or share what they have seen. If they click through to a link and then come straight back to Facebook, it suggests that they didn’t find something that they wanted. It’s a pretty clever strategy, and Facebook hopes it will heavily reduce click bait posts.

So now if a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click like, or comment on the story when they return to Facebook, this will suggest that people didn’t click through to something that was valuable or useful to them.

I really get annoyed with those click-baiting posts which have surveys or quizzes, designed to entice engagement? You then hopefully share the results with friends on Facebook. And what about those posts giving you the chance of winning prizes? All you need to do is like their page and share their post with three of your friends. If you’re using this tactic, you won’t be very soon, because Facebook is hell bent on stopping these posts. I personally think this is a good thing, because it’s not what Social Media is about. To me, click baiters are saying to the world “I can’t be bothered building relationships and connecting with people. I’m just going to bribe them”.

The battle against Facebook harassment, or trolls!

A few years ago Facebook changed some of its user rules to curtail online harassment.

Users can choose to read or ignore abusive or threatening messages and posts without the sender knowing they are doing so.

If someone is being harassed, blocking the abuser sometimes prompts additional harassment, particularly offline. Antigone Davis, the company’s head of global safety wrote. “We’ve also heard from groups that work with survivors of domestic violence that being able to see messages is often a valuable tool to assess if there is risk of additional abuse.”

The product changes are part of broader efforts to combat online violence that include using artificial intelligence to prevent abusive users from opening duplicate or fake accounts.

Still, the company’s software can’t catch all abuse among its more than 2 billion global users. Sometimes a new account created by someone who was previously blocked, might not get caught by these features.

The messaging changes were meant to help protect users from those who slip through and create new accounts to continue the harassment or abuse.

Facebook’s head of security, Alex Stamos said the company was blocking more than a million attempts a day by users trying to create fake or duplicate accounts. A million attempts a day? That’s a lot of nasty people.

The message here is play nice. Be positive, and don’t verbally abuse people. Treat people with respect, the way you’d like to be treated. It’s impossible for us all to agree on everything, so if you don’t like something, just scroll on.

The Magic Formula.

The formula of how content is ranked by Facebook is constantly being tinkered with as the volume grows larger. In a post last year, the company acknowledged that only around 300 items are seen in an average newsfeed from the 1,500 available.

Predictably, Facebook’s latest tinkering has provoked strong but mostly positive reaction from users. According to social media experts, the change should have little impact on news feeds and supports FB’s long term goals.

Facebook users probably don’t want to figure out which stories are worth a click and which are not. And Facebook almost certainly does’n’t want that either, particularly since it wants you to click on things, especially its ads. If you can trust the content you find on Facebook, it’s better for you and Facebook’s bottom line. 

How soon will these changes happen?

As this newsletter goes online, you should be seeing the changes being rolled out. Facebook has never been known to procrastinate when making a decision and implementing it. They wasted no time at all buying Instagram, and they certainly won’t be sitting on their hands with this one. It’s clear that businesses may need to adjust their social media strategy to ensure they’re complying with these new rules.

Have they gone far enough?

In my opinion, this is a good start, but I think even more can be done. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I think swearing and hateful language has no place in social media. I understand this is something that’s impossible to eliminate, but perhaps they need to do more to reduce it. Sometimes heated arguments happen and the F word gets thrown around a bit, but when you’re on a public forum, a bit of self-control goes a long way. British Prime Minister Theresa May is considering legal action against Google, Facebook and Twitter after they didn’t delete abusive comments about her. So it would be in Facebook’s best interests to do more to curb offensive and hateful language.

New Specials.

As usual, we have some new specials to celebrate the arrival of February. If you follow us on Facebook  or Instagram, you’ll also get a reminder each month. We also have a countdown timer special on our website home page. Check back regularly so you don’t miss a bargain.

Until next month, if we can help with anything don’t hesitate to contact us.

Brett and Brad.