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Facebook Says People Are Spending Less Time on Its Platform

By Published on .

Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says time spent on the platform took a hit as it implemented changes meant to improve the experience for users.

On Tuesday, Facebook announced quarterly earnings, and the CEO said in a statement that already people have been using the social network less because of tweaks to the types of content it has decided to show. This month, Facebook has said it will show more posts from friends and family and fewer from publishers and brands, a move meant to combat low-quality posts, like the false news that circulated around the election of 2016.

"We made changes to show fewer viral videos to make sure people's time is well spent," Zuckerberg said in Wednesday s announcement. "In total, we made changes that reduced time spent on Facebook by roughly 50 million hours every day."

That comes out to 3 billion fewer minutes of potential ad time, and implies that Facebook's 1.4 billion daily users spent on average two minutes less on the platform daily.

Publishers and brands have worried about Facebook's announced changes because they could impact their ability to reach audiences on the social network. Facebook has said publicly that it wants to encourage "meaningful" interactions and discourage the kind of experience where people scroll quickly through the News Feed without much enjoyment.

"2017 was a strong year for Facebook, but it was also a hard one," Zuckerberg said. "In 2018, we're focused on making sure Facebook isn't just fun to use, but also good for people's well-being and for society."

Meanwhile, Facebook still reported strong revenue of $12.97 billion in the fourth quarter, up 47 percent over the year prior, which beat analyst expectations. Profits were up 20 percent year over year, hitting $4.3 billion in the fourth quarter.

The News Feed changes could help Facebook's business, because more advertisers and publishers will need to pay to reach people on the social network, according to Aaron Goldman, CMO of 4C, an ad tech and data platform.

"We're seeing tremendous growth in advertising on Facebook and changes to the News Feed will only accelerate the investments brands make into paid social," Goldman says. "With organic reach dwindling, the only way to ensure your audiences see your message is to pay for the privilege."

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