User time drops following Facebook tweaks

User time drops following Facebook tweaks
People are spending less time on Facebook. Photo: neirfy, Bigstock

Facebook has recently made significant changes to the way its News Feed functions causing a drop in user time which has led to a quarterly decline in users in both Canada and the US.

The changes have come as a result of persistent criticism of the news feed with Facebook playing a role in ad business, political agendas and having a broader social impact.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the changes would help the firm in the long run, also stating that 2017 had been “a strong year…but a hard one”.

These comments were made by Zuckerberg following the release of the social media giant’s latest results.

The success that Zuckerberg was referring to is evident in the data with the firms revenue rising a huge 47% to more than US$40 billion whilst their profits saw an even larger percentage increase up 56% to almost US$16 billion.

This rise in profits comes even despite the fact that new US laws introduced a one-off tax on overseas profits for businesses that cost Facebook US$2.3 billion.

Zuckerberg also said that he was firmly aware of the debate surrounding the utility of social media sites and wanted to make clear that he was determined to make the use of them “more meaningful”.

The changes include boosting interaction between friends and family by including more of this content on users’ feeds and reducing the frequency of ads and business content.

So far, the changes, which include less viral videos appearing on feeds, have reduced the time people spend on Facebook by approximately 50 million hours a day or 5%.

The update also included information on user growth and indicated that the speed at which users are growing has slowed over the last quarter. The firm reported that there were approximately 1.4 billion active users daily and a total of 2.13 billion active users a month.

Those numbers indicated a 14% increased from December 2016 but the year-on-year growth in September showed a 16% increase indicating a small slowdown.

The US and Canada bring in an “outsize share” of the ad revenue on Facebook and the users in this region declined by roughly 700,000 compared to the previous quarter.

Zuckerberg is committed to improving the user experience on Facebook and whilst there has been a lot of feedback from consumers about the changes, the long term health of the platform is front of mind.

Zuckerberg has only ever trusted his people and therefore the data is coming from his engineers. The changes will eventually encourage further engagement from users across the social media platform.