WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell has come out in support of Facebook’s recently-announced update to its News Feed, which could see publishers and brands lose out big time.
On Friday morning, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed in a post that the social media giant will begin prioritising content from users’ families, friends and groups over brands and media companies.
“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” he wrote.
“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.
“Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do – help us connect with each other.”
Zuckerberg said he expects the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down as a result of the move.
“But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable,” he added.
The announcement comes just after Zuckerberg said 2018 is the year he will “fix” Facebook.
Facebook’s latest effort to “encourage meaningful interactions between people” and make users’ time on the platform more valuable is based on research that essentially points the finger at publishers and brands for decreasing their wellbeing.
“Research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our wellbeing,” Zuckerberg wrote.
“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.”
Speaking to Adweek, WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell said Facebook’s move “seems to be the right thing to do, because there are certain publishers who are responsible publishers and there are certain [others] that you need to monitor more carefully.”
Paul Smalera, ideas editor at business publication Quartz, reckons Facebook is implementing a strategy used by drug dealers to maintain users’ addiction and stop them from going cold turkey.
“This move was surely carefully designed, with product managers realising that users who abandon social media are unlikely to return, while a cut-down dose of its drug might keep feed junkies hanging around longer, searching for that scrolling high,” Smalera wrote.
“Ask any dealer – cutting the product is a better scenario than having users overdose and turn up dead.
“In Facebook’s case, ‘dead’, mercifully, would mean a user who quits the site cold turkey, and sets themselves free of social media. And that’s clearly not a world Zuckerberg wants to live in.”
B&T contacted Facebook for comment.