Facebook changes its news feed to focus on family and friends

Facebook is making major changes to its news feed, prioritising posts from family and friends and reducing those from media organisations, businesses and brands.

The move is an attempt to make time spent on the platform "more meaningful" for its more than two billion members, founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on the site.

News, brand and video content has "exploded" in recent years, "crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other", according to Mr Zuckerberg.

One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.We built...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Facebook CEO wrote: "The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being.

"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."

The shift comes as experts warned publishers will need to wean themselves off relying on Facebook amid a steep drop in interactions on the site.

Press Association analysis of data from social media analytics company Newswhip revealed a huge fall in engagements - a combination of reactions, comments and shares - for many of the UK's biggest news websites towards the end of 2017.

MEDIA Facebook
MEDIA Facebook

The top three performing sites in the UK saw sharp falls, with bbc.co.uk total engagements down 21.6% compared with December 2016, dailymail.co.uk down 41.6% and independent.co.uk down 46.6%.

Mr Zuckerberg, who last week said his "personal challenge" for 2018 was to fix Facebook, said people may spend less time on the social network as a result of the changes.