Facebook Axing 'Overly Promotional' Posts Because Users Don't Want Them

Nov 15, 2014 12:08 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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Facebook's latest move should be welcome news for the everyday user, but it could spell trouble for businesses and advertisers.

The social network is on a mission to purge much of the News Feed of "overly promotional" posts that don't seem to appeal to users, including posts that solely urge people to make a purchase or install an app; posts that use only ad content; and posts that push users to enter sweepstakes and other promotions.

"As part of an ongoing survey we asked hundreds of thousands of people how they feel about the content in their News Feeds," Facebook said in the announcement. "People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content."

Facebook's 1.35 billion users worldwide should see fewer promotional posts starting in January.

Even major advertisers' posts will be removed from the News Feed unless they are specifically denoted as ads.

"It's a clear message to brands: If you want to sound like an advertiser, buy an ad," Rebecca Lieb, a digital advertising and media analyst at the Altimeter Group, told the New York Times.

Facebook has built an advertising empire and in the third quarter posted a 64 percent increase in advertising revenue to $2.96 billion. Prices for ads jumped 274 percent year over year.

Despite the changes, marketers likely won't want to lose access to Facebook's enormous collection of consumer data, one of the biggest in the world.

"Facebook is saying, 'We're in charge. You're renting from us,'" social media analyst Debra Aho Williamson of the research firm eMarketer told the Times. "But businesses continue to spend more money on advertising on Facebook, and users continue to spend more time and share more information on it."

The site processes so much content each day that the average user has around 1,500 new items that could be viewed with each log-in.

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