Meta modifies the Facebook app to act more like TikTok.

For most of Facebook’s history, its executives have run a proven playbook: emulate the success of others.

On Thursday, the company, which has been renamed Meta, continued that tactic with a redesign of its main Facebook app that will change the way users navigate the service and make it act a bit more like one of its biggest competitors. .

Facebook users will soon open the app to a new Home tab that will feature a feed with photos, looping videos and status updates from a mix of friends and family. The Home tab will also show a variety of posts from people and pages not connected to a user’s network, labeled “Suggested for you”.

This category will be determined by what Facebook’s algorithms think someone would like to see, based on thousands of individual information signals and the user’s Facebook browsing history. The so-called discovery engine behind these algorithms is powered by Facebook’s artificial intelligence technology.

In short, the Facebook app will act more like TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media app. While Facebook has always connected people to content produced by their friends, video-based TikTok relies on algorithmic signals and viral content to show viewers highly engaging posts, without having to rely on the Facebook network. someone’s friends or relations.

The change is part of a push by Meta to encourage use of its social apps, which also include Instagram. In recent months, Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Meta, has promoted video products on Instagram and Facebook, with the company inserting more suggested content to keep users engaged and returning to apps regularly. On Instagram, the formula seems to be working, Zuckerberg said.

The Home tab follows a popular social media trend known as “discovery”, which essentially relies on algorithms and machine learning to better understand the types of content a user may like and offer it without the no one is working hard to find it. Facebook is investing heavily in this area, as are companies like Snap and Twitter.

TikTok’s focus on discovering and delivering engaging content has been a social media phenomenon. Founded less than a decade ago, TikTok has added hundreds of millions of users over the past few years. Young people spend more than 90 minutes a day watching TikTok by some estimates, even surpassing YouTube in terms of time spent in the app.

This put pressure on Meta’s family of apps. Its executives are increasingly concerned about the share of younger users migrating to TikTok and other up-and-coming social media apps. To combat churn, Facebook and Instagram executives have made changes to products that track competitors’ movements. In 2020, Instagram introduced Reels, a looping short video product almost identical to that produced by TikTok.

Meta has made big changes in the past to how its products work, sometimes ticking off its user base. But new changes happen more subtly and over time. The Home tab will still be filled with posts from friends and groups and will slowly introduce outside content while increasing more videos and Reels from influencers. While this approach has been successful for TikTok, it’s unclear if Facebook users will embrace the changes – or even notice.

In the Facebook app update, users should expect to see more short videos and reels in the Home tab as the company refines algorithms and improves the discovery experience. Home Content can also include photos or posts from Pages and Groups that a user is not already following.

Users can still choose to only view content from friends, family, or certain Pages – without seeing unconnected suggested posts – by going to the new Feeds tab. Under the Feeds tab, users can view content in categories such as posts from friends, posts from groups they belong to, and pages they follow, or a feed of anything combined and posted in reverse chronological order.

Mr Zuckerberg said people would still be in control of what they see in the app with the Stream tab.

“One of the most requested features for Facebook is making sure people don’t miss posts from friends,” he said in a Facebook post. “The app will still open to a personalized feed on the Home tab, where our discovery engine will recommend the content we think will interest you the most. But the Feeds tab will allow you to customize and have more control over your experience. “

The Facebook app update will be rolling out globally over the next week.

Lance B. Holton