Facebook emphasizes putting friends and family first in News Feed

The social network is changing its algorithm again to prioritize personal posts over news stories and other content.

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Erin Carson
2 min read

Facebook is changing its News Feed to bump posts from friends and family toward the top.

James Martin/CNET

Facebook is going back to a family-first approach.

The social networking titan said Wednesday it will be making changes to its News Feed to prioritize items from friends and family, meaning you'll likely be seeing more baby, wedding and pet-related posts.

"To help make sure you don't miss the friends and family posts you are likely to care about, we put those posts toward the top of your News Feed," Adam Mosseri, vice president of product management for News Feed, said in a blog post. "We learn from you and adapt over time."

This marks a reversal of Facebook's previous tweak to the News Feed, which is the central way that people get their updates on the site. In April 2015, it published a post explaining efforts to balance what Facebook users see from publishers, public figures, companies and community organizations.

The company also took the opportunity to highlight its News Feed Values, which Facebook says it's held for years. Those values hit points like friends and family coming first, and Facebook being a platform for all ideas and a place for authentic communication.

"We are not in the business of picking which issues the world should read about," Mosseri wrote. Facebook in May found itself fending off accusations of political bias when website Gizmodo published a story saying that Facebook "suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers."

Previously, in November 2014, Facebook announced changes to the News Feed algorithm that would reduce "overly promotional posts." Businesses worried the alteration would make it more difficult to reach people without having to pay to promote posts. Facebook has 1.09 billion daily active users and is a key means of ingesting content for many.

"Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages," Engineering Director Lars Backstrom said in a separate post today, a reference to the profiles of companies, groups and high-profile figures. Though, if most of a Page's traffic comes from shares, likes and comments, the impact should be milder.

Other recent changes to Facebook include the ability to post directly to your News Feed instead of your Timeline, and the redesign of its Like button.