One basic problem here is that if the feed is focused on ‘what do I want to see?’, then it cannot be focused on ‘what do my friends want (or need) me to see?’ Sometimes this is the same thing – my friend and I both want me to see that they’re throwing a party tonight. But if every feed is a sample, then a user has no way to know who will see their post. Indeed, conceptually one might suggest that they have no way to know if anyone will see this post.
Of course, Facebook’s engagement teams won’t let that happen – if I feel too much that I’m shouting into the wilderness I’ll leave (this is one of Twitter’s new user problems), and so I’ll be rationed out at least enough exposure to friends and engagement feedback to keep posting. Until you don’t. But if something was really important, why would you put it on Facebook?
I think one could suggest that this is some of what’s behind the suggestions of systemically lower engagement on Facebook newsfeeds, and behind the obvious growth of person-to person chat (most obviously WhatsApp, iMessage, FB Messenger and Instagram – three of which Facebook of course owns). The social dynamics of a 1:1 chat work much more strongly against overload, and even if one person does overshare they’re in a separate box, that you can mute if you like.
.. a key Snap thesis – that though you still share things asymmetrically, there shouldn’t be an algorithm between you and your friends.
.. That is, maybe Stories mean you share more things, but by bundling them into one thing you place less load on your friends and reduce the need for a filter.
.. A Snapchat story isn’t a permanent record and has less pressure to show off your perfection. Stickers and filters are more fun and spontaneous than Facebook’s rigid blue boxes
.. The catch is that though these systems look like they reduce sharing overload, you really want group chats. And lots of groups. And when you have 10 WhatsApp groups with 50 people in each, then people will share to them pretty freely.
.. All social apps grow until you need a newsfeed
All newsfeeds grow until you need an algorithmic feed
All algorithmic feeds grow until you get fed up of not seeing stuff/seeing the wrong stuff & leave for new apps with less overload
All those new apps grow until…
.. perhaps the old joke ‘No-one goes there anymore – it’s too crowded.’ That is, for social, Metcalfe’s Law might look more like a bell curve. I don’t know what the next product here will be (I didn’t create Snap, after all). But tech like this tends to move in cycles – we swing from one kind of expression to another and back again, and we might be swinging away from the feed.
.. the ‘WhatsApp forward’ can take such a link and send it viral across a country, and where Facebook can ultimately kill a link or an entire source across the whole site if it really wants to, it’s very different for a P2P messaging app to make that call (outside China, of course).
.. the plea from many media companies to ‘up-rank’ their posts in the newsfeed – to make people eat their greens – and to kill ‘fake news’ links is at least theoretically possible on Facebook. It’s not possible in iMessage – with end-to-end encryption, Apple has no idea what you’re sharing.
The social-media giant will begin testing the effort next week by prioritizing news reports in its news feed from publications that users have rated in Facebook surveys as trustworthy, executives said Friday. The most “broadly trusted” publications—those trusted and recognized by a large cross-section of Facebook users—would get a boost in the news feed, while those that users rate low on trust would be penalized... This shift will result in news accounting for about 4% of the posts that appears in users’ feeds world-wide, down from the current 5%.. About 45% of U.S. adults get news from Facebook.. Mr. Zuckerberg said the change—which will be tested leading up to the 2018 U.S. midterm elections—is necessary to address the role of social media in amplifying sensationalism, misinformation and polarization. “That’s why it’s important that News Feed promotes high quality news that helps build a sense of common ground,” he wrote in his post... He compared the approach with Facebook’s reliance on third-party fact-checkers to determine whether or not an article is completely fabricated.
.. On Friday, some publishers and media observers expressed concern about the ranking change, which, like other Facebook news-feed changes may have a significant and unpredictable impact on news publishers that rely on the site for traffic, including the Journal.
.. Facebook’s trust score would boost the news-feed presence of well-known and widely trusted publications even if users disagree with the content or aren’t avid readers.