Facebook renames the News Feed to just ‘Feed’
Going forward, the feature formerly known as “News Feed” for 16 years will be simply known as the “Feed,” potentially a big change given that it’s the primary way most Facebook users browse the platform.
Facebook also unveiled a logo for the Feed, set in a distinctive sans serif. The company uses a typeface called Optimistic (not to be confused with Optimist) on its corporate site and it appears the logotype may be based on that typeface but modified slightly.
According to The Verge’s Andrew Heath, Facebook insiders say the change is being driven, at least partially, because it was creating confusion with users who may have started to believe posts from friends and family members were “news” in the traditional, journalistic sense of the word.
Meanwhile, Alex Kantrowitz, a writer for the newsletter Big Technology notes that “Facebook has backed off showing news links after realizing the engagement wasn’t worth the scandal (and societal damage).”
It’s not immediately clear to what extent Facebook has or is planning to modify its algorithms or other technology to determine how much, if any, news content appears in the feed.
“This is just a name change to better reflect the diverse content people see on their Feeds … and does not impact the app experience more broadly,” Facebook said in a statement that appears to be carefully worded to avoid specifics.
News headlines in the feed also had the disadvantage of often only being skimmed and taken at face value without the context of reading the entire story. When users did click a link, they were frequently taken to publisher sites, which are outside of Facebook’s platform, which could be less desirable for it.
The company has tried to get publishers to adopt its “Instant Articles” format, which attempts to render news content faster and in a more user friendly experience where the publisher and Facebook also split ad revenue, but it never quite caught on.
Starting today, our News Feed will now be known as "Feed." Happy scrolling! pic.twitter.com/T6rjO9qzFc
— Facebook App (@facebookapp) February 15, 2022
Facebook and other social media platforms have faced significant criticism — even to the point of being called before Congress — over becoming conduits of misinformation and conspiracy theories and this could be an effort to allow the company to point out that it has made efforts to delineate between the two.
To many, however, simply switching names may be too little too late and just a question of labeling — with social networks widely blamed for spreading false information about coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines, the results of the 2020 election and playing a large role in triggering the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection.
Facebook introduced a separate “news” section in its mobile apps and desktop site previously, a sign that it will at least attempt to send users in search of content prepared by professional writers and journalists to that feature.
For media outlets, the change could have a significant shift in attracting clicks to their website news stories and videos, especially if algorithm changes start de-emphasizing content from bona fide news organizations. Facebook has not officially announced any such changes and, like most big tech companies, often only releases broad information about any algorithm changes.
It also could raise concerns about whether consumers will continue to think everything in the feed is factual despite the name change — and if they will even bother tapping over to the news section for headlines.
In many ways, Facebook’s “News” section appears to try to mirror Apple’s News and News+ offering, which operates out of a standalone app, and services such as Google News, Yahoo News and others.
These services use a variety of methods to determine what headlines and scrapes each person sees, ranging from user defined personalization to algorithms to human curation.
Previously, Facebook attempted to emphasize its Groups feature, even going to the extent of heavily advertising how Facebook Groups could bring people with similar interests together. However, many of these quickly became breeding grounds for misinformation and offensive content.
In its latest effort to reshape itself, Facebook renamed its parent company Meta as a nod to what its says is a renewed focus on the “metaverse” — a concept that involves immersive 3D virtual worlds with a focus on interaction.
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