Facebook is revolutionizing its algorithm to compete seriously with TikTok

Here’s the plan: Instead of prioritizing posts from accounts that people follow, Facebook’s main feed will begin to broadly recommend posts regardless of who posts them, along with more news.

From the competition with Snapchat, Stories were born. From one with TikTok i Reel. And what about the new WhatsApp features taken from Telegram? Over time, Facebook/Meta has proven its ability to copy the strengths of its major competitors to follow users’ tastes. However, what has been accomplished so far is no longer enough, especially for Facebook. Sure, the platform still has billions each quarter and has 2.94 billion monthly users, but some cracks are evident. In early 2022, Mark Zuckerberg’s platform burned $ 250 billion of its market value on the stock exchange, due to a decline in profits in the last quarter of 2021 and the loss of about one million users.

To this day, TikTok remains the most popular social network. According to Sensor Tower, the platform owned by Chinese private company ByteDance was downloaded 3.6 billion times last year. 20% and 21% have more downloads than Facebook and Instagram. That’s not all: In the first three months of 2022, iPhone users spent an average of 78% more time on TikTok than on Facebook.

After renaming the News Feed to “Feedback” and introducing Facebook Reels, the first social network Zuckerberg is about to revolutionize its algorithm to look more like TikTok and increase its traffic. This emerged from an internal memo sent at the end of April by Tom Allison, the Meta CEO in charge of Facebook. Here’s the plan: Instead of prioritizing posts from accounts that people follow, your main Facebook feed will start recommending posts by an overwhelming majority regardless of who posts them. It also plans to integrate Messenger and Facebook into one app. In short, like on TikTok. The goal is to reinterpret these features that were made on Instagram and bring them to Facebook, to attract younger users and reverse stagnant growth.

Based on Alex Heath’s meticulous reporting on The Verge, Mark Zuckerberg aims to build the “Discovery Engine,” the core concept for Meta. Heath was able to speak directly to Allison about the future of Facebook. The comparison revealed that the company was slow to see the competitive threat from TikTok, due in part to Facebook and Instagram’s initial growth from ads. But now, Meta sees the Chinese platform as an intrusive competitor, which is why it wants to prey on certain features, such as centralizing private messages and video viewing.

The Facebook app will then become a mix of stories and reels at the top of the interface, followed by posts recommended by the discovery engine on Facebook and Instagram. It will be a more visual and rich video experience with suggestions and instant messages to your friends. To make this feature more central, Facebook is putting Messenger at the top right of the screen, reflecting the unpopular decision to separate the two apps eight years ago.

Instagram already has a head start on Facebook by showing Reel from unfollowed accounts or what Meta calls “unconnected” sources. Currently, approximately 11% of the content in the main Facebook feed is offline. It’s not much, because posts keep appearing based on friends’ posts and not algorithmic AI.

Based on Heath’s conversations with Alison, it’s clear that Meta realized that in order to truly compete with TikTok, she needed to repeat her magical experience for the “For You” homepage. This means eliminating the need to follow an account to watch interesting videos and increasing the viral potential of the content without necessarily having a large audience. This is what makes TikTok popular.

“Stories are really the most popular way to interact with friends,” Alison says, referring to the format Facebook and Instagram have taken over from Snapchat. The combination of Stories, Direct Messages, and a scroll will bring Facebook back to its primary mission: keeping friends and family connected. Allison directed her teams to encourage users to message each other on reels that appear on Facebook rather than sending them through third-party apps. “What we really see is that people want to communicate through content,” said Meta exec. Therefore, Facebook will try to provide better content that truly meets the interests of the individual user and simplifies sharing, chatting and interaction within the application.

“Discovery Engine”, “Back to Facebook Origins”, “Connect People to Content”. A series of concepts Mark Zuckerberg aims to persuade investors to continue funding his vision for virtual reality (VR) on social networks. Alison sees them as essential steps in moving Facebook forward when it was too late. Also since its users are significantly aging, it is therefore necessary to reverse the trend.

However, not all employees seem to be convinced of the new path being taken. They’re wondering how a place for random AI videos matches up with Facebook’s original mission of including pictures of kids and holiday updates. A Facebook employee wrote in an internal response to Alison’s note. . It appears that TikTok may make users realize they are not having a good time, which is detrimental to long-term growth, according to the product manager.

However, Facebook users have changed. In Meta’s latest earnings call, Zuckerberg said that half of the time people spend on Facebook is via video. Alison wrote in her memo that people “often open our app with no explicit intent” but that “investing in our discovery engine will improve people’s ability to connect.”

Within Facebook, Alison Teams is working on a project codenamed “Mr. T,” which allows users to access a chronological version of their feed categorized by groups, Pages, and friends they follow. However, pushing the discovery engine will put more pressure on the decisions the Meta makes to amplify some messages than others.

As for groups, they will still be an important part of Facebook. In this regard, management teams are redesigning group navigation, or what employees internally now refer to as “the community,” into an accessible panel to the left of the broadcast, similar to Discord, a platform where users can communicate with the voice of calls. and video calls, text messages, and files in private chats or common “server” calls.

Creating uncertainty is the algorithm’s biggest influence on content. The algorithm that in the past influenced Trump supporters’ attack on the Capitol in 2021, spread fake news and failed to recognize propaganda content. For this reason, Facebook’s drive to become more like TikTok is an indictment of what the news feed has been like, according to Elie Pariser, author of The Filter Bubble, who is now involved in an initiative to create a no-profit social media. Pariser argues that the News Feed was not a safe place to share his life. ” People [ora] They figure it out and move those conversations to places where they feel most comfortable,” like private messages, he explains.

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