Facebook decides two separate news feeds is the wrong call

The social network is ending a test in six countries that split up the news feed into posts from friends and family, and those from brands.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
2 min read

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been making big changes to the news feed recently.

James Martin/CNET

Your news feed won't be splitting up after all.

In October, Facebook said it was testing a change in the news feed that separated it into two feeds: one for personal posts from friends and family, and another one called the "Explore Feed," for brands, publishers and other businesses.

On Thursday, the social network said it's ending the test because the results came back negative.

"You gave us our answer: People don't want two separate feeds," Adam Mosseri, Facebook's head of news feed, wrote 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."

The company has been making big changes to the news feed -- basically the soul of Facebook's platform -- in the last few months. Facebook has faced major blowback for its role in the 2016 election. Russian agents abused the platform with ads and organic posts that showed up on the news feed, in an attempt to sway the election and sow discord among Americans.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg is now on a mission to prove that Facebook is good for the world and for people's well being. He said the news feed will shift its focus to personal posts from family and friends, and away from viral videos and news stories. When it does show you news stories, the company said it will prioritize local news outlets that Facebook users have deemed more trustworthy.

On Thursday, Mosseri said those recent changes will address the needs of users better than the Explore Feed test.

After the test was first announced in October, it drew major criticism from publishers in those test countries -- Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia. Filip Struhárik, a journalist in Slovakia, said the test led to the "biggest drop in organic reach we've ever seen."

Mosseri on Thursday also conceded that Facebook didn't explain the test well enough.

"We also received feedback that we made it harder for people in the test countries to access important information, and that we didn't communicate the test clearly," he wrote. "We're acting on this feedback by updating the way we evaluate where to test new products, and how we communicate about them."

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