The changes raise questions of whether people may end up seeing more content that reinforces their own ideologies if they end up frequently interacting with posts and videos that reflect the similar views of their friends or family.
Zuckerberg, in a post on Facebook, said the company will change the filter for the News Feed to prioritize what friends and family share, while reducing the amount of non-advertising content from publishers and brands, Reuters reports. Product managers are being asked to "facilitate the most meaningful interactions between people", rather than the previous mandate of helping people find the most meaningful content, he said. The more time people spend in the newsfeed, the more ad revenue Facebook makes.
"By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down", Zuckerberg wrote. Facebook, he said, had closely studied what kinds of posts had stressed or harmed users.
He said that he and his team felt a responsibility to make sure Facebook was good for people's wellbeing. "We need to refocus the system".
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Facebook's algorithm - think of that as a complex digital recipe for deciding what shows in each person's News Feed - will now prioritize posts from friends and family that "spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people".
The 33-year-old chief executive said that the move, which will badly affect many publishers and could hit Facebook's own bottom line, was meant to renew the social network's focus on bringing people together after users complained that commercial posts were crowding out personal moments. Mosseri says the company always tries to test these changes with a small percentage of users before rolling it out broadly to ensure the updates "behave as intended".
Another wave of criticism pummeling Facebook: that the company's products exploit vulnerabilities in human psychology to hook people on social media, hijacking their time and attention and undermining their well-being.
The changes come in the aftermath of a 2016 U.S. election season that highlighted Facebook's problems with fake news and divisive content.
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Facebook has said before that it will emphasize personal connections over business pages and celebrities that people follow. A long comment on a family member's photo, for instance, might be highlighted in the News Feed above a video with fewer comments or fewer interactions between people.
While the move was anticipated, Thursday's announcement filled in more of the details.
Zuckerberg added that his way of running Facebook has shifted since the birth of his two daughters, Maxima and August, in recent years. But the pressure will be on publishers and brands to create content that generates conversations if they want to improve their odds of being seen in News Feed.
Facebook and other researchers have particularly homed in on passive content.
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"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".