Facebook has unveiled a major overhaul of its core social network and its suite of apps that places greater emphasis on giving its users more ways to have ‘private’ connections, while tilting its business model further into ecommerce.
The social network’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg debuted the redesigned apps on Tuesday (30 April) during the company’s annual F8 developer conference, as he announced a commitment to user privacy following a year of catastrophic security breaches.
Zuckerberg opened the conference by declaring his ambition to “building a privacy-focused social platform” that prioritises helping people connect with close family, friends and like-minded communities.
In the main app, the News Feed has been de-emphasised, while groups has been placed front-and-centre in a prominent tab. Users will now get a personalised feed of updates from their groups within the tab as well as recommendations to join new groups based on their interests.
To encourage users to interact with groups, Facebook will start promoting groups in areas like Marketplace and Watch, while users will be able to post to any group they are a part of from the News Feed.
In other updates focused on building the community aspect of Facebook, the events tab has been redesigned to help users find events in their local area while making it easier to see which events their friends are hosting or may be attending.
Meanwhile a new feature called Meet New Friends is designed to help people connect with strangers that have shared interests or real-world connections, like working for the same employer or attending the same school.
Facebook’s dating service, Facebook Dating, is expanding to 14 more countries including the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guyana and Suriname. A new feature called Secret Crush will allow users to create a secret list of Facebook friends they are attracted to, in the hopes of creating a match.
It has also grown its ecommerce tools with an in-app shopping feature on Instagram that will allow users to buy products directly from social creators.
The photo-sharing app is also testing a system that will almost entirely hide likes on a person’s feed, as part of a move to discourage users from focusing too heavily on “how many likes they get”.
It is one of the most significant redesigns that Facebook has undertaken, and as the world’s biggest social network with more than 2.38 billion monthly active users, it will have a big impact on digital advertising strategies.