Facebook (FB) has seen its stock surge again over the past few months… until today, when it took a huge hit on the post from Mark Zuckerberg and updates from the company that Facebook will be altering the algorithms that build the News Feed (that scroll of items that you see when you open Facebook, and the only thing that most people use on the social network).
This is a navel-gazing backlash against the passive glazed-eyeball monster that Facebook created, and particularly, in my opinion. against the damage Facebook has done to the fourth estate and to our public discourse, and an attempt to refocus on what Facebook originally intended to do: Bring people together. So they will, they say, be pushing less and less news and business information in the news feed, and more and more personal interactions between friends.
The stock reacted in a panic, losing $30 billion in market value (down about 6%) in pre-market trading, though it was a more moderate 4% drop that seemed to reflect immediate investor consensus in the early part of the trading day. The falling share price came mostly because Zuckerberg’s comments indicated that there might be less engagement on Facebook as a result of these changes:
“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.
“For example, there are many tight-knit communities around TV shows and sports teams. We’ve seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones. Some news helps start conversations on important issues. But too often today, watching video, reading news or getting a page update is just a passive experience.
“Now, I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”
This isn’t the end of the “what to do about news” conundrum that I think is the primary driver of this change — we have always relied on the news as almost a fourth branch of government, holding ...