Back in October, Facebook revealed that it was testing a split News Feed with users in half a dozen small countries. The split feed was designed to separate one’s social life from the Pages they follow, moving posts from Pages into a News Feed that was separate from a feed containing statuses from friends and family. Now, about four months later, Facebook is putting an end to that test.
Facebook called this the Explore Feed test, one designed to determine how users feel about having content split up in this manner. The idea was to drive social interaction with friends and family by stripping away the posts from Pages that may otherwise clutter up a News Feed. This itself was spurred by feedback from users who wanted to see more updates from friends and family and less from brands.
The results are in and Facebook says they’re not favorable. The company has put an end to the test, explaining that it didn’t manage to connect users with friends and family in a stronger way, nor did users like the posts they were seeing. In the absence of those two things, Facebook has no reason to expand this design to more users.
In recent weeks, Facebook announced a drastic change to the News Feed — a single feed, not split — that prioritizes social engagement among family and friends over Pages and other public content. That move followed an increasing number of studies and anecdotal reports claiming that social media usage may have a negative effect on one’s mental health.
Facebook contends that the issue isn’t inherently related to social media, but rather how people are using the platforms. Rather than passively consuming content, which can have a negative effect on one’s mood and mental health, users are told to actively engage with their social peers. To do that, though, they must see status updates more often and that comes at the expense of Pages posts.
In addition to stopping the split News Feed test, Facebook says that it will look at how it tests new products in the future. Some users were upset that the company failed to adequately communicate the test to them, and so it will work on addressing that problem with future design tweaks.