Over the next year, people will start spending less time on Facebook. Those who used it to catch up on the news will find less of it to read. There’ll be fewer videos to watch and fewer advertisements. In theory, Facebook will make less money off its users or, at least, the rate at which it makes more and more money off them will slow down.
If this scenario gad been presented this to Facebook executives a year ago, it would have been cause for alarm – evidence that something had gone deeply wrong on the platform, and a situation that called for an immediate solution. Yet as of today, it’s the company’s stated ambition: Facebook wants to shrink.
Facebook intends to be just a platform for interaction. This is likely to have significant consequences for the broad subset of Facebook users that aren’t individual people: media companies, small businesses, big brands, and everyone else who has come to see Facebook’s News Feed as an essential way to reach audiences and clients. In a post yesterday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the pages managed by those businesses are likely to reach far fewer people in 2018. The goal of which is to reduce the amount of news on the News feed like fake news depressing its users which caused high-ranking former executives to distance themselves from the company, in some cases expressing regret for the service they had helped to build.
After tackling a series of whimsical challenges in previous years, Zuckerberg said his personal goal for 2018 is to fix the company. He told New York Times he is determined to make sure his daughters think Facebook “was good for the world.” His statement represented an acknowledgement that the opposite might be true.
In November, Zuckerberg laid out a plan for the company placing it at the center of political conversation. “We will do our part not only to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, but also to give everyone a voice and to be a force for good in democracy everywhere,” he wrote.
The company has also partnered with fact-checking organizations working to prevent hoaxes from spreading. It’s forcing advertisers to disclose the content of their advertising publicly. In many ways the company is seeking to play a greater role in public affairs than ever before.