Mark Zuckerberg and other Meta executives have made it clear for some time that competing with TikTok is their top priority. Now, we have additional details about how they plan to completely overhaul the Facebook app to accomplish that.
The social network is working on a major redesign of Facebook’s main feed that would heavily emphasize recommended content from pages, creators and people you don’t already follow, according to a memo from a Facebook executive that was published by The Verge.
The memo, from Tom Alison who heads up the Facebook app at Meta, states that the goal is to shift Facebook into a “Discovery Engine,” which would heavily rely on recommendations, similar to TikTok’s “For You” feed. Recommendations would mainly come from “unconnected” content, including Reels, and users would see fewer posts from friends and family in their feeds. The plan would also bring Messenger’s inbox back into the Facebook app in an effort to encourage users to share more content from said “Discovery Engine.”
It’s not clear how long it will take Meta to implement these changes, some of which mirror changes already happening at Instagram. But it’s not the first time Meta executives have hinted at big changes to come in Facebook’s app, or even the first time we’ve heard about an upcoming pivot from social network to “Discovery Engine.” Zuckerberg said in April that the company was in the midst of a “major shift” that would change the dynamics of feeds to emphasize AI-driven recommendations over users’ social graphs.
Still, the memo from Alison makes clear just how important the new priorities are for the company, which is desperately trying to catch up to TikTok.
But the shift to more recommendations could also be problematic for the company. The company’s current recommendation algorithms have been blamed for exploiting divisiveness and promoting misinformation. While Alison told The Verge that there would be stricter rules for recommended content, the company has often struggled to enforce its own rules. And, notably, in his memo Alison states that the company is changing the way it views its obligation to reduce “negative experiences.”
“‘Reducing negative experiences’ has been removed as a product priority since it’s more aptly tied to the product culture we are trying to build throughout our approach of being ‘Trustworthy,’ ‘People-Centric,’ and ‘Unified,’” Alison wrote. “Our focus is doing this holistically across all of our products as a permanent part of our culture as opposed to a short-term priority.”