A raft of new functionality updates are coming to Facebook and its sister brands as the company tries to rectify its image.
At a recent Facebook developer conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage to address recent issues that have been plaguing the company, and introduce new products and features to keep the social media giant on top of the market.
The future is private
Last year’s scandals involving people’s information being harvested by third parties through Facebook was a big story, and Facebook don’t want that kind of backlash against them again. To help keep your Facebook profile secure, Facebook are instituting new rules about how developers can access your data and what limits there are on how much they can use it.
The News Feed – often seen as the central part of the Facebook experience – is undergoing major changes to combat the rise of ‘fake news’ and bolster user engagement. Stories from external sites will get less traction than posts in groups or communities that the user is in, which they hope will make the site feel more like a conversational hub than a place to just react positively or negatively.
Indeed, groups are going to be the major focus of the site going forward. The rise of sites like Nextdoor and Chinese social media juggernaut WeChat have shifted the focus of social media to closed groups where like-minded people get together about shared interests. In other words, communities are going to be the new friends.
The Facebook family
Facebook isn’t the only social media network under the Zuckerberg umbrella. The company also owns Instagram which is also undergoing changes to keep up with fierce competition.
One of the biggest changes to come along in a long time for the Instagram application is the removal of the number of Likes from a post. We’re accustomed to seeing viral pics gaining millions of Likes from the platform’s biggest performers, but soon that number won’t be displayed at all. It’s done in the name of making users focus on the content of an Instagram post instead of an arbitrary number that’s meant to indicate how popular it is. The algorithm, after all, is meant to worry about popularity for us.
New Facebook-related products are coming down the pipeline, including Facebook Dating. Users can nominate people as their “secret crushes” and, if the people they select also tell Facebook their crush is reciprocated, both users will get a notification.
Messenger is getting an under-the-hood modification, with the goal of letting not just people connect with each other instantly, but people and businesses. A suite of AI-enhanced chatbot features will soon be available to businesses who sign up to the services, allowing their customers to find out more about their products or services without having to talk to a real human or do a web search. In a world with an increasing number of AI-driven devices, it’s no surprise to see chatbots become a regular part of everyone’s online interactions.
There’s no hard release dates for these features to appear, as they’ll typically be rolled out in small markets first to iron out the most critical bugs. However, these announcements are a clear indicator of what the world’s biggest social media company (for now) will look like in the future.