Instagram and Facebook are taking a page from social media rival TikTok and will use a "discovery engine" to show content it thinks users want to see based on their interests and past history. So rather than prioritizing posts from accounts people follow, Facebook's main feed will, like TikTok, start heavily recommending posts regardless of whence they come.
Jessica Melugin, director of the Center for Technology & Innovation at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says gone are the days when social media was simply used to keep up with family and friends. Now the platforms are telling their users to "look at what these people who you may or may not know are up to and performing and doing and posting out in the world."
Some social media experts foresee Facebook only suggesting things of which it approves, effectively censoring conservative content. While that may be so, Melugin believes social media users are becoming more experienced and able to sort through the bias.
"We're all becoming much more savvy users," she tells AFN. "I think we're all a little bit more skeptical about what we see online, and we take things with a bit of a grain of salt, which is just us becoming more educated users of social media. I think that's great."
If everyday Americans cannot be trusted to sort through what is true and not true, then she wonders why they should be trusted to vote to elect their own leaders.
For now, both platforms will allow users to opt out of the new system. On Instagram, for instance, Melugin says users can open the app, tap on the Instagram icon in the left corner, and then tap "following" to reverse all of the new changes.
For Facebook, The Verge notes that this move is similar to when Facebook copied Snapchat as it was growing quickly. But this time, "the stakes are arguably higher," as investors are doubting Meta's ability to navigate challenges to its ads business.