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Facebook: the social network

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/30/technology/facebook-to-change-news-feed-to-focus-on-friends-and-family.html?mcubz=0

Facebook has constantly been one of the biggest social media networking and media-sharing sites. Its value to people around the world is in the potential for users to interact with others and have access to a wide variety of content posted by friends or family. Similarly, news publishers have also been increasingly dependent on Facebook’s news feed feature to share their media to a large audience. As Facebook’s network grew, more people became users and the audience for publishers’ content expanded, resulting in Facebook becoming more and more valuable to publishers who wanted to spread their media. This network effect continues to support the reason that Facebook is one of the top social networking sites today.

In this article by the New York Times, Isaac and Ember report that Facebook has planned to make changes to its news feed algorithm so that it will promote content posted by the family and friends of users over posts from media publishers. Although in class, we define a social network as one centered around friends and enemies, Facebook has expanded a user’s social network to outside media as well. According to data from Parse.ly, more than 40 percent of referral traffic to news sites came from Facebook before the change in newsfeed priorities. The proposal to lessen the appearance of publishers’ content on a user’s newsfeed will decrease the networks that a user has by limiting his/her exposure to content posted outside of family and friends, but on the other hand will create stronger relationships between the user and his/her friends.

One aspect of this change that will have less of an impact on a user’s social network is that a publisher’s traffic coming from individual users sharing or commenting on their media will not be affected. This may strengthen if not expand a user’s network if they are able to see their friends commenting or sharing media content. A popular trend now is for users to comment and tag their friends on the videos or posts from news publishers of interest to them. According to the triadic closure principle, if two people share a mutual friend, then they are likely to form a tie together over time. On social networking sites like Facebook, if two people have a mutual friend who tagged one of them in a video, then the other friend is likely to see that post in their feed and form a weak bond with the person tagged through their mutual friend.

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