In a much-needed break from stories about fighting fake news and sitting before a Senate Intelligence Committee; Facebook is currently trialing a new News Feed format in a number of countries, splittitng the iconic News Feed in two.
The personal posts, from the user's friends and other contacts, will be presented in one of the feeds, while posts from news outlets and commercial organizations will be shown in a second separate feed, being called the Explorer Feed in some of the trial countries; this second feed will require users to actively click to scroll through.
The move is apparently being considered so that users can more clearly engage with the posts from their family and challenge what is called the "context collapse" where users no longer post about their personal lives, while also having a separate space to find other pages that they might be interested in.
Another perspective on why the change is being considered is that it will increase revenues from organizations paying for advertising; as to get their posts to feature in the personal feed the organizations will need to pay for them to be pushed there. This change might lead to smaller news outlets struggling to compete with the larger news companies for exposure, as the larger firms would be able to afford the more lucrative personal feed places.
A Slovak journalist has reported that the new Explorer Feed has resulted in a massive drop in post engagements across a number of pages, including four times fewer post engagements for Slovakia's four biggest media pages. However, the split News Feed has had some technical issues and has yet had enough time to settle, so it might be too early to judge its overall effect.
Facebook has said that the move is not going to be trialed globally and will most likely be trialed for at least a few months in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia and Sri Lanka before a decision is reached on the layout of the social media platform which now boasts over 2 billion users.