Facebook News Feed Experiment Spreads Confusion, Panic

Facebook is testing whether or not people prefer "personal and public content" being separated as part of its test in which it hid all non-paid posts, said the company's head of news feed, Adam Mosseri.

Speaking after a Guardian report revealed the radical change, forced on six small nations around the world, Mosseri said Facebook "currently" has no plans to roll the experiment out further. But he did not address whether or not the test would become general policy worldwide if the results show that Facebook users do prefer the news-free news feed.

The test, which relegated all published content in six different countries to the "explore feed," a new Facebook feature rolling out worldwide, had a devastating effect on engagement for journalistic organizations in those countries, which include Slovakia, Guatemala and Bolivia.

In Slovakia, a broad selection of the 60 largest Facebook pages saw a decline in engagement of between two-thirds and three quarters. Local journalists in Guatemala expressed concern at the "catastrophic" change, reporting that the new feed mixed their work in with "preposterous" sites, enabling the spread of propaganda with a potentially pernicious effect on democracy as a whole.

Dina Fernandez, a journalist with Guatemalan site Soy502, said that she is "very very worried" by the change, "not only because it has decimated our numbers but also because the feed pops up with preposterous sites.

"The danger for the spread of propaganda and the political instrumentalisation of social media, particularly in countries with fragile democracies like ours, is acute," she said.

In his statement, Facebook's Mosseri said: "We always listen to our community about ways we might improve news feed. People tell us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family. We are testing having one dedicated space for people to keep up with their friends and family,...

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