Canadian Media Outlets Say They Can Handle Facebook's Newsfeed Changes

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Shares of Facebook Inc (FB.O) fell more than 4 percent on Friday and were on track for their worst session in more than three months after Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced changes that he said would hit user engagement in the near term.

Last year, Facebook announced that it would be testing separate feeds for "personal and public content" - a move that also led to an outcry from the media industry that prompted Facebook to clarify that it had no plans to roll the feature out broadly.

Under the revised regime, there will be fewer posts from brands, pages and media companies and more from people.

The company says it will tweak what people see to make it more "meaningful".

"It's in the same direction that Facebook has been pursuing for a while: offering a place for discussion among individuals, a community space, rather than being a news source", said Oh Se-uk, a senior researcher on digital news at the Korea Press Foundation. In practise, that means that people will see more posts from the people they actually know, and fewer from news organisations and celebrities that they follow.

"We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health", he wrote.

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It's a big tweak and a bigger admission: that something is wrong with Facebook. Video posts on Facebook have also increased in the past two years, further contributing to this state. "On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos - even if they're entertaining or informative - may not be as good".

That's because even if people read such content on Facebook, they don't necessarily comment or interact with it in other ways. Instead, Facebook wants people to see more stuff from friends, family and other people they are likely to have "meaningful" conversations with - something the company laments has been lost in the sea of videos, news stories (real and fake), and viral quizzes on which "Big Bang Theory" character you are.

Adam Mosseri, the head of Facebook's News Feed division, acknowledged in a separate blog post that the changes could have adverse affects on media outlets.

"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", adds Zuckerberg. An avid Facebook user, Mr Arvind Konduru, said, "I often missed posts from friends and I thought they removed me as a friend".

Facebook was widely criticized for its passivity amid the avalanche of false information that invaded the feed of US users during the presidential elections of 2016.

"Without that - as the large majority of all new online advertising spend continues to go to the search and social media platforms - quality content will no longer be a choice or an option", he continued. Dotface's videos about a South Korean mother giving a hug to young sexual minority people who could not tell their parents about their sexual orientation struck a chord with viewers around the world, accruing 5 million views and many shares, comments and likes.

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