Facebook has announced that it is ending an experiment that intended to separate the News Feed.
Last October, the social media giant began testing a feature in six foreign countries that divided content into two different feeds — one for posts from friends and family and one for posts that came from more public sources, such as news publishers.
“You gave us our answer: People don’t want two separate feeds,” wrote Facebook head of News Feed Adam Mosseri, in a blog post. “In surveys, people told us they were less satisfied with the posts they were seeing, and having two separate feeds didn’t actually help them connect more with friends and family.”
As well, reports had surfaced that the divide between user and publisher-created posts had inadvertently been causing some significant fake news problems. One particular incident took place in December in Slovakia, one of the six countries in which Facebook was testing the News Feed division.
There, a Muslim man who warned another civilian of a planned terrorist attack eventually became widely circulated on Facebook, leading many to panic over the alleged threat. Eventually, the police issued a statement to inform citizens that the story was untrue, but because the alert came from an official public account, it did not actually appear in users’ News Feeds.
As a result, police had greater difficulty in sharing need-to-know information to Slovakian Facebook users. Facebook has been criticized many times in the past for its role in spreading fake news, which has led the company to admit it can sometimes be damaging to democracy.
In the blog post, Mosseri addressed these issues, acknowledging that its efforts to separate the News Feed “made it harder for people in the test countries to access important information, and that we didn’t communicate the test clearly.” Going forward, Mosseri said the company will begin “updating the way we evaluate where to test new products, and how we communicate about them.”
While Facebook has ended its experiment to divide the News Feed, the company says it will still go forward with its other plans to prioritize posts from friends instead of publishers and other sources.
Mosseri said this initiative will “better address the feedback we heard from people who said they want to see more from friends and family.” The changes are expected to be implemented sometime later this year.