But for most everyone else using the world’s largest social network to draw attention to their content, the change is potentially seismic. While Facebook is notorious for its endless piddling product tweaks, this one seems a substantive shift in strategic vision. It’s an unprecedented acknowledgment that Facebook’s core feature — News Feed — has not worked out at all the way it was intended. It was abused by peddlers of misinformation. It was used by foreign governments to attempt to interfere in elections. It made people feel bad.
In many ways, Facebook’s planned changes to News Feed are a retreat from the online public square the company helped create. They’re a tacit admission that the company’s great news experiment — which made it one of the most successful publishers in the world — failed. And now Facebook wants to go back to an idealized safe space, free of hyperpartisan pages, misinformation, and fake news. But when you’re home to nearly 2 billion humans, no change is ever simple; Facebook moved fast, broke things, and changed the way that the world produces, consumes, and shares information. And changing course more than a decade into one of the most disruptive social experiments ever might prove more than just a little difficult.