by Sarah Frier
April 7, 2016 at 11:36:28 PM GMT+3
Facebook Inc. is working to combat a decline in people sharing original, personal content, the fuel that helps power the money machine at the heart of its social network, according to people familiar with the matter.
Overall sharing has remained “strong,” according to Facebook. However, people have been less willing to post updates about their lives as their lists of friends grow, the people said.
Instead, Facebook’s 1.6 billion users are posting more news and information from other websites. As Facebook ages, users may have more than a decade’s worth of acquaintances added as friends. People may not always feel comfortable checking into a local bar or sharing an anecdote from their lives, knowing these updates may not be relevant to all their connections.
According to one of the people familiar with the situation, Facebook employees working on the problem have a term for this decline in intimacy: “context collapse.” Personal sharing has shifted to smaller audiences on Snapchat, Facebook’s Instagram and other messaging services.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has spoken at Facebook staff meetings this year about the need to inspire personal sharing, the people said. Facebook has tried several tactics to encourage more of these posts, such as an “On This Day” feature launched last year that brings up memories from past years that users might want to talk about again, or reminders about special occasions like Mother’s Day. Facebook has also prompted users to post the most recent photos and other recently accessed content from their phones.
Original sharing of personal stories — rather than posts about public information like news articles — dropped 21 percent year over year as of mid-2015, The Information, a tech news site, reported Wednesday. Facebook said in a statement that “the overall level of sharing has remained not only strong, but similar to levels in prior years.”
The company this week made another move to make it easier to post, introducing a live video tool that everyone on Facebook can use. Zuckerberg on Tuesday did a video address to Facebook users encouraging them to post live video of whatever they want, noting that even mundane activities like getting a haircut can be entertaining when they’re in the moment. More than five million people watched.