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Facebook tweaks causing users to spend less time on the social network

Atheer – External Sources

Mark Zuckerberg’s attempts to fix Facebook are causing users to spend less time on the service.

According to CNN Tech, the Facebook CEO told investors on Wednesday that tweaks made to the content that it shows to users has led to a drop of five percent in the total amount of time that users spend on the social network.

“In total, we made changes that reduced time spent on Facebook by roughly fifty million hours every day,” Zuckerberg said in a statement with the company’s fourth quarter earnings report.

The decline is said to come from a decision to show fewer viral videos in the News Feed.

Facebook also reported its first-ever decline in daily users in the US and Canada, dropping to 184 million daily users from 185 million in the prior quarter.

David Wehner, Facebook’s CFO, was quoted as saying yesterday that the North America user decline was caused by product tweaks and is not expected to be “an ongoing trend.”

The stock initially fell as much as five percent in after-hours trading following the report, a rare decline for a company that consistently outpaces Wall Street’s estimates. This figure later rebounded.

Facebook has rattled investors in recent months with a series of announcements in response the platform’s role in enabling fake news, filter bubbles and foreign meddling in the US election.

This month, Facebook announced plans to show users more content from friends in the News Feed and less from brands and publishers, in an effort to boost the well-being of users. In particular, Zuckerberg targeted videos and articles that users consume passively, without commenting or sharing.

Zuckerberg previously said that the change could lead to a drop in user engagement and time spent on the platform, but would ultimately improve the quality of the user experience.

The move raised concerns among investors about the impact on Facebook’s core advertising business. For now, Facebook continues to be an ad sales juggernaut.

Sales hit nearly $13 billion for the quarter, an increase of 47 percent from the same period a year earlier. The company now has 2.13 billion monthly active users and 1.4 billion daily users, with advertisers eager to reach that massive audience.

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