Facebook Changes Algorithms to Increase Friends & Family Posts, Reduce Ads

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WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) - Facebook is undergoing changes to try to enhance the online experience for its users.

The company's co-founder announced plans to reduce the amount of national media outlets and business content from your news feed in favor of more posts from family and friends.

"Any time you're a social network, one of the things you're worried about is, do I have a lot of noise in the network? So, I have a lot of, whether it's junk posts or junk news, we want to make sure all the interactions are meaningful."

Jonathan Grady is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Thomas College. He says despite social media's relative infancy, this form of communication has already evolved and changed rapidly over the last decade.

"You're also starting to see it's been around long enough that you're seeing a new generation either adopt it or not adopt it," said Grady.

Facebook has received criticism in recent years due to the amount of advertisements crowding the personal moments the network was created for.

The company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg's 2018 resolution was to 'fix' the social network he co-founded as the company had been facing public backlash for contributing to the distribution of fake news and for fanning the flames of the country's current political polarization.

Zuckerberg announced the company's plan to feature more local, trusted news sources as his research concluded that reading local news directly correlated with civic engagement.

"The more support locally that people are getting, I think the more the community will thrive," said Brittnae DeRoche, Marketing Director for the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber is bracing for the changes and how they will affect local businesses who use the platform to advertise.

Nathan Towne, Marketing Manager for Waterville Creates, says the change could actually benefit small businesses and organizations that use Facebook to their advantage.

"So the more posts you post that have diversity, you have some photos, you've got people commenting, liking and sharing, the better off you'll be. So it's not the end of the world for brands or organizations by any means. It just means you have to be a little more thoughtful about what you post and how you post it," said Towne.

While community engagement is now more important than ever, Zuckerberg claims users will likely spend less time on Facebook but will have a more rewarding experience.

As more family photos and friendly exchanges are likely to be prioritized in your news feed, Towne says he doubts it will cause people to put their phone down more often.

"I have to say I'm not sure why people would be on Facebook a little less because the less advertising you see, for me, you almost might be engaging more," said Towne.