Facebook parent Meta Platforms is changing the way it shows users posts and videos on its flagship social network, part of an effort to get people to watch content from accounts they don’t already follow and better compete with the video app TikTok.
The main feed on Facebook will now be called “Home,” and will be a place for people to “discover new content” that Facebook thinks that they’ll like, according to a company blog post. That includes photos and videos selected by software algorithms, which will surface content based on users’ interests, from both accounts they follow and those they don’t.
The changes will start Thursday, but the majority of the content will still come from accounts users follow, a Meta spokeswoman said. The company plans to increase the new content it shows over time as it improves the recommendation algorithm.
A new tab, called “Feeds,” will exclusively show posts from friends, family, pages and groups that a person has chosen to follow, with the most recent content at the top.
“Your Home tab is uniquely personalized to you,” the company explained in its blog. “This system takes into account thousands of signals to help cut through the clutter and rank content in the order we think you will find most valuable.”
Facebook’s user growth has stalled in recent years in the US and Europe. Competitor TikTok, known for its younger audience, has seen significant growth in its number of users and time spent on the app in the US. In turn, Facebook has been working to attract young people – a group that Meta chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg has called the company’s “north star.”
TikTok, whose main feed is called the “For You” page, serves up short-form videos to users with help from its algorithm that discerns their likes and dislikes from their activity on the platform. Most often these videos are from accounts that users don’t directly follow, but whose content aligns with their interests.
This personalized approach has helped catapult TikTok to 1 billion monthly users in just four years. While TikTok only has about a third of Facebook’s 2.9 billion users, the average US TikToker spends 29 hours a month on the app, almost double Facebook’s 16 hours, according to mobile researcher Data.ai.
Zuckerberg has acknowledged TikTok’s success in recent earnings calls, and has been pushing his own version of TikTok’s short-form videos, called Reels, aggressively on both Facebook and Instagram. Part of Meta’s strategy has also involved attracting creators to make quality videos that originate on Reels.
One aim of the new feed will be to keep Facebook users on the app longer by adding more original content and a broader range of accounts.
Every video that someone posts to Instagram that’s less than 15 minutes long will be automatically branded a Reel. If it’s made by a public account and lasts fewer than 90 seconds, it will be eligible for distribution beyond the person’s followers, Instagram said. The move indicates that Reels are now more strategically important to the company than its other video initiatives, such as IGTV, which was launched in 2018 to compete with YouTube.