Mark Zuckerburg has started the new year with a resolution to take Facebook back to basics and to ensure that time spent on the social media monolith is ‘time well spent’. For Facebook, this starts with an updated news feed. Rather than seeing viral videos and promoted news content, we should expect to see and read more from our families and friends – our true social network.
I joined Aaron Heselhurst on BBC World’s GMT programme to discuss the impact of the shift of focus on Facebook, advertising revenues and shareholder satisfaction. I also expand on these comments below.
Is James Corden bad for your health?
In his blog post of 12 January 2018, made on his own social media platform, Zuckerberg acknowledges that “feedback” from users is that “public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other” and that this has the potential to impact our wellbeing.”
Whilst offering his own humblebrag, Zuckerberg acknowledges that “video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years.” Indeed they have and the platform has become the place to go for rolling news, comedy videos and an unnecessary (quite frankly unacceptable) amount of James Corden.
I’d also like to know more about the academic research that is alluded to. “The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being.” (Not everyone!) “We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.”
Netflix on Facebook?
One final point to take away from Zuckerberg’s blog is the talk of TV viewing. Over the past few years, the way we watch TV has changed. Dystopian viewing and reality TV has seen social media alive with comments on people at home watching TV on TV (see Gogglebox). Call it meta or call it crazy, but even with hashtags, social media has failed to fully interact with TV viewing habits. Is this the year that will change and does Facebook have something up its sleeve?
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.
Time will only tell, but 2018 could see a resurgence for Facebook or, if the advertising revenues fall drastically, the beginning of the end.