Meta Is Killing The News Feed In Its Pursuit to Copy TikTok
Step aside friends and family, short-form video is cool now
When Facebook introduced the News Feed in 2006, it was unlike anything the digitally connected world had seen.
It was also hated by a huge percentage of users when it launched, bringing privacy concerns to the company’s doorstep for the first time.
But, as Facebook’s internal metrics and data showed, the addition of the News Feed kept people using it for longer. Even those who hated it were using the site more because of it.
For Zuckerberg, there was no going back, and it has since cemented itself as part of our digital social fabric.
News Feed was one of the first features that marked the shift towards Zuck’s dream of ‘connecting the world at scale.’ It moved away from being a social media company — i.e., the goal of close connections with friends and family — to focus on becoming a platform company.
The shift changed everything and has impacted society more than we understand at this moment. Now, it was less about keeping you engaged with your friends and more about keeping people engaged with the Facebook platform itself. It was no longer a place to check into once in a while — it was the hub of your entire social life. The result meant features like games and quizzes flooded the feed, interlaced with content from external media companies. Gone were the pokes (yup, still yucky), replaced with clicks, likes, and time spent engaged. Continuing down this path, Zuck even wanted Facebook to become a person’s home for news. Since 2019, Facebook has paid news organizations $10+ million a year for content without paywalls.
Unfortunately, this vision warped into a nightmare. As the algorithms improved and better understood how to drive engagement (answer: make people angry, upset, or scared), the stories and updates on the feed flipped to promote content that drove hate, division and fake news. Now, people were telling you they didn’t believe the “mainstream media,” instead choosing Facebook as their news source. As we saw on January 6th, this strategy came to a terrifying crescendo.