Facebook algorithm update prioritises family and friends, but you can still use it to find local news

Facebook has announced it will prioritise family and friends over public publishers in its latest News Feed algorithm update. Photo: AP/Noah Berger
Facebook has announced it will prioritise family and friends over public publishers in its latest News Feed algorithm update. Photo: AP/Noah Berger

Changes to the way Facebook prioritises what you see will make it harder for readers to get local news from the newspaper they trust.

In a post made to the social media site on Friday morning (AEST), founder Mark Zuckerberg announced a significant shift away from public content to focus on content your family and friends share and comment on.

Let’s be clear – given the oversaturated state of the world’s largest social media website, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Zuckerberg even expects people to spend less time on the site as a result of these changes.

However, as part of the News Feed update, Facebook’s head of News Feed Adam Mosseri said the changes would likely give rise to more celebrity content and live videos, since they often received the most interaction between friends. 

Thankfully, there is a way to make sure you see the local news that matters to you on Facebook by selecting ‘See First’ from the Following menu at the top of our Facebook page on your mobile phone.

You can make sure you see our posts first in your news feed by selecting 'See First'.

You can make sure you see our posts first in your news feed by selecting 'See First'.

Alternatively, if you’re on desktop, you can use the flyout menu when you hover over a page’s title to find the ‘Following’ menu and select ‘See First’ from there.

By selecting ‘See First’, you are telling Facebook that local news is meaningful to you, and you’ll never miss an update from us.

As your local publisher we work hard to bring you content that affects your community but this update will likely make it harder for people to find that news. You can help us by sharing our stories on Facebook with your friends and families when you think they will have an impact. 

Focus on ‘well-being’

At least one reason for the change in tack from Facebook is research that showed mindlessly scrolling through News Feed, passively reading content and consuming autoplay video, made people feel negatively.

However, if they were interacting with friends and family, users had a positive response.

“The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being,” Zuckerberg said in his Facebook post announcing the changes.

“We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health.”

In an interview with the New York Times, Zuckerberg said the birth of his two daughters had changed his viewpoint on what he wanted Facebook to be.

"It's important to me that when Max and August grow up that they feel like what their father built was good for the world," he said.

Now, go on, give this story a share and show your family and friends how they can keep up to date with what’s going on in your community. 

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