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Facebook usage time down 5% following updates

Mark-ZuckerbergFacebook has admitted that recent updates to prioritise personal interactions over posts from businesses, brands and media caused the time spent on the service to drop 5% in Q4, while its content arm has ordered a series from Friends star Courteney Cox.

Speaking on the social network’s fourth quarter and full year 2017 results conference call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that strategic shift reduced time spent on Facebook “by an estimated 50 million hours every day”.

“We don’t normally share time metrics because they’re not the best way of understanding engagement,” said Zuckerberg. “But this shows how committed we are to making sure the time you spend on Facebook is valuable.”

He said that by focusing on “meaningful interactions” Facebook will offer more value so that its community and business will be stronger over the long term.

“Over the next three years, we know video will continue to grow, so our job is to build video experiences that help people connect with family, friends, and groups,” said Zuckerberg.

“That’s why I’m excited about Watch as a place to connect with people who have similar interests, and it’s why we launched products like Watch Party where friends can watch a show together.”

Zuckerberg said that the ‘News Feed video ecosystem’ and the ‘Watch video ecosystem’ are “almost completely separate things”, with the Watch designed to be destination where users go to watch specific videos and interact with a community around that content.

The news comes as Facebook Watch, the social network’s content platform, ordered Nine Months, a pegnancy-themed series from Ample Entertainment.

Cox, the Cougar Town and Friends star, is executive producer on the show, and has put out a casting call for “diverse, emotional, unexpected characters to film themselves going through the most real, emotional and real story that us has humans have to tell”.

For the three months ended December 31 Facebook reported total revenue of US$12.97 billion, up 47% year-on-year. Of this US$12.78 billion was ad revenue. Net income was up 20% at US$4.27 billion.

Also speaking on the earnings call, COO Sheryl Sandberg said: “Mobile-first video was 50% of our video ad revenue this quarter, compared to 41% last quarter.”