Facebook shares fell around 5% on Friday following the news that the company would retool its News Feed to boost social interactions over stories from publishers. Mark Zuckerberg announced the news on Thursday evening in a post on his own Facebook page to expected investor skittishness.
“I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” Zuckerberg admitted. “But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”
Shares opened on Friday around $178, a sharp fall from the previous day’s high of around $188. Shares had perked back up to $181 at the time of writing. While the fall is notably tied to Thursday’s big news of a shift in mission, shares didn’t reach monthly low levels around $171, where Facebook traded in early December.
As Zuck’s comments make clear, the dip doesn’t come as a surprise. Still, investors are likely to keep watch of the stock as the platform actually implements the major philosophical changes it says are underway.
Facebook has pursued growth relentlessly ever since it debuted as a public company in 2012, and its formula works. The company recalibrates its legendary algorithms behind the scenes in order to boost engagement, its key metric, at all costs — at times at the expense of its users. As 2017’s scandal over fake news and Russian disinformation on the platform demonstrated, there’s a dark side to Facebook’s eerily potent social formulas, and one it will need to answer for in 2018 if it intends to chart a sustainable future.
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