“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us,” Zuckerberg wrote. “But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content—posts from businesses, brands and media—is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”
That marks a tectonic shift for Facebook’s algorithm, which has been built to prioritize engagement (and monopolize users’ attention) above almost all other considerations. That has helped propel the company’s revenue to record highs, hitting about $34 billion last year, but the strategy has drawn fierce criticism for favoring inflammatory and misleading content. That criticism grew even fiercer after a 2016 election in which Facebook proved crucial for Donald Trump’s successful campaign to win the White House.
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