After spending the better part of the past two years actively shifting its focus away from news and live videos, to a more community and personal interest-centric take, the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic is causing Facebook to re-emphasise on what it really started off with. With quarantine and lockdown protocol in place in many parts of the world, the world’s largest social media platform has realised that this is a wrong time to focus on its hyper-connected product strategy.
Facebook, over the past one year or so, has fundamentally changed its stance towards what it wants to be. In the recent past, Facebook has used the location data that it scrolls from users to push more notifications for nearby events, and also suggest relevant groups. This has also been concentric towards its eventual goal of maximising its advertisement revenue. However, at a time of a global viral pandemic, this is not quite the ideal product strategy for a company that wants to be a part of your life at all points in time.
The same is validated in a Bloomberg report, which quotes Fidji Simo, head of Facebook’s primary (i.e. its own) social network, to state that the company is, indeed, moving fast to adapt to a different product strategy in this present situation. With most individuals staying indoors, Facebook has clearly seen a rise in the total volume of text messages and voice calls being done on Messenger and WhatsApp, along with a clear rise in consumption of content that was Facebook’s biggest fodder to begin with — news. Given that advertisement revenues are already down by the billions, it is important for Facebook to move fast.
With its users searching for the latest news updates across the world, Facebook has not only had to abruptly re-focus on news as a key product service again, but also greet an old enemy — fake news. It has since taken proactive steps to curb such instances of misinformation (which you can read all about here), and has even curated its advertisers to prevent misleading COVID-19 cures from coming up to the forefront. The Bloomberg report cited earlier also affirms the same, alongside highlighting that ‘live’ is another feature that is suddenly back in focus, again.
The reason is self-explanatory — as more individuals remain stuck indoors, platforms like Facebook and YouTube will become the primary places where content creators showcase more of their work — and possible more frequently too, as aspects such as boredom set in. Facebook is also looking to use its existing tools, which were pushed to the background, to help small and medium businesses weather the coronavirus storm. All of this is bringing Facebook back to some of its successful and much-appreciated tools, as the pattern of content consumption continues to change due to individuals being stuck at home for as-yet indefinite time spans.