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Facebook tells employees to tweak algorithms to take on TikTok

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San Francisco, June 16 (IANS) Facebook (now Meta) employees have reportedly been directed by the senior executives to change the platform’s algorithms to make it more like its arch Chinese rival TikTok that is gaining immense popularity among the teenagers.

In an internal memo obtained by The Verge, Tom Alison who’s Meta executive in charge of Facebook detailed the brief.

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“Rather than prioritise posts from accounts people follow, Facebook’s main feed will, like TikTok, start heavily recommending posts regardless of where they come from,” according to the internal memo.

The other directive to employees is that years after Messenger and Facebook split up as separate apps, the two will be brought back together, mimicking TikTok’s messaging functionality.

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The company realises that its short-form video platform Reels is not enough to threaten TikTok.

“Executives were closely tracking TikTok’s moves and had grown worried that they weren’t doing enough to compete. In conversations with CEO Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year, they decided that Facebook needed to rethink the feed entirely,” according to the report.

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While Instagram has already morphed to look more like TikTok with its focus on Reels, “executives hope that a similar treatment to Facebook will reverse the app’s stagnant growth and potentially lure back young people”, the report said late on Wednesday.

TikTok users are spending more time on the app than ever before.

According to the company, the number of users grew 800 per cent between 2018 and 2020.

Currently, there are more than 50 million daily users of the Chinese app in the US, and growing.

According to mobile app research firm Sensor Tower, TikTok’s downloads were 20 per cent higher than Facebook’s and 21 per cent higher than Instagram last year.

In the first quarter this year, iPhone users, on average, spent 78 per cent more time on TikTok than on Facebook.

Meta in February this year launched Facebook Reels for iOS and Android to more than 150 countries across the globe.

In an alternative to TikTok, Facebook in 2020 started testing its short video-making app Instagram Reels first in India.

Instagram said this month that it is now extending the length of Reels up to 90 seconds, which will help users express their most authentic selves on Reels.

–IANS

na/ksk/

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Sidharth Shukla

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