Facebook Inc. (FB) shares plunged 5% in early trading Friday, after the social media icon said it would re-tool its news feed to direct more content from the families and friends of its 2 billion monthly active users.
The stock hasn't fallen more than 5% since Nov. 3, 2016.
The changes will mean users will see fewer posts from companies and brands and more stories, videos and photographs from people to which they are already connected, the company said, and will likely reduce the amount of time people spend on the social media platform.
"We're making a major change to how we build Facebook. I'm changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions," CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his Facebook page. "We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products."
"The first changes you'll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups," he added.Jim Cramer and the AAP team hold positions in Facebook for their Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells FB? Learn more now.
Facebook has been under pressure for several months over the proliferation of so-called "fake news" on its website and allegations that officials tied to the Russian government used the platform to influence the result of the 2016 Presidential election.
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Zuckerberg didn't address these issues in his late Thursday post, but nonetheless indicated that a change in focus that puts connected content ahead of third-party offerings likely means that users will spend less time on the Facebook platform.
"Now, 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 said. "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."
That jibes with a "personal challenge" the Facebook founder revealed last week, a move TheStreet's Eric Jhonsa said was based not only on positive public relations, but sound business acumen.
"As Facebook sees its ad inventory growth slow noticeably -- the result of limited growth in the company's news feed ad load -- it's eager to give consumers fresh reasons to spend more time on its core app and website," Jhonsa argued. "Improving the emotional satisfaction users derive from actively using its services certainly wouldn't hurt."
"And in many ways, this isn't a brand-new effort by Facebook. Over the past 18 months or so, Zuckerberg and others had already outlined a number of efforts meant to change how the average user engages with Facebook," Jhonsa said.