Facebook users spending less time on site ‘could benefit company in long term’

Facebook users spending less time on the site could make the company more valuable in the long term, an industry expert has claimed.

In its latest financial results, Facebook revealed users were spending around 5% less time on the site – equivalent to around 50 million hours a day – following changes made to the News Feed.

Earlier this year the site announced algorithm changes that would prioritise posts from friends over public news and video posts.

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said the site wants to make time spent on Facebook “more meaningful’, rather than be time lost to consumption of videos and news posts.

We just announced our quarterly results and community update. Our focus in 2018 is making sure Facebook isn't just fun,…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, January 31, 2018

But industry analyst Martin Garner, from CCS Insight, said the focus on quality time over content consumption could eventually make the site more valuable to users and advertisers.

“Mark Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook had gone too far in filling people’s News Feeds with video and other content they consume passively, without interacting with any of their contacts,” he said.

“So Facebook had to make the change. There are many sites where passive consumption is the usage model, but few where interaction with friends is primary.

“The outcome of the News Feed changes is uncertain. Users’ total time on Facebook may come down, but it should be better quality time. That could be more valuable to advertisers, and should make users value Facebook more.”

Facebook, along with other social media platforms, has come under scrutiny in recent months over its impact on politics and wider society.

Despite users being on the site less, Facebook performed well in its latest financial results, and Mr Zuckerberg said connecting people was the company’s priority.

“News and video will always be an important part of Facebook,” he said.

“But when people are spending so much time passively consuming public content that it starts taking away from the time people are connecting with each other, that’s not good.

“Let me be clear: helping people connect is more important than maximising the time they spend on Facebook.”

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