Yesterday we heard that Facebook has a sharing problem, and now we know part of what Facebook is doing to address it. During a Facebook Live video broadcast discussing the product's launch, CEO Mark Zuckerberg briefly pulled out his iPhone for a demo, showing off an internal build of Facebook's app in the process. "You might have seen some stuff in there that we're just playing around with and testing," Zuckerberg says after wrapping up.
"Not everything there's gonna launch."
And there are a few small things to catch. The biggest is a revamped interface for posting something to Facebook. In Zuckerberg's app, the "Whats on your mind?" box is always open and ready for someone to type in — a big contrast to the uninviting buttons that sat atop the iOS app for years. When tapped, the posting box then rolls down a large, colorful list of options for what you can do, like writing a note, posting a photo, or starting a Live Video. The overall effect is that it should be quicker to start posting, and clearer which options are available to you.
It turns out that Facebook has been rolling out this design for a couple months, though it's not yet present for everyone (during a survey of four iPhones in our office, I found four different posting interfaces). Facebook tells us the redesign is aimed at improving sharing. "We’ve re-designed the ‘What’s on your mind?’ menu at the top of your News Feed to inspire people and make sharing on Facebook more fun and dynamic," a Facebook spokesperson says. "Tapping on ‘What’s on your mind?’ will now bring up a menu of all of the different ways you can share, including options like posting photos and video, feelings, or checking in to a place."
Zuckerberg's app also reveals a trio of new posting options. Those include buttons for posting music and slideshows, neither of which currently exist on Facebook. The Verge reported in July that Facebook was speaking with music labels about some kind of "unique" service, so it's possible that Zuckerberg is working with an early version of whatever that might be. Zuckerberg's app also has a GIF button, which is new to the posting screen. Facebook Messenger already has a built-in GIF search feature, but there's no easy way to search for and post GIFs to Facebook proper. It seems like that search option could be coming to Facebook itself.
The updated interface and new posting options are particularly interesting in light of yesterday's report in The Information, which said that Facebook is growing concerned about a drop in sharing of personal content across its site. Overall sharing was reported to have fallen 5.5 percent between mid-2014 and mid-2015, with sharing of personal posts — like people's own thoughts and photos — falling 21 percent during that period of time. Given that Facebook was built on connecting with friends, that's likely seen as a troubling trend within the company. The Information reported that Facebook dedicated a team to figuring out ways to reverse it.
During his broadcast, Zuckerberg notes that not all of the early features seen in his build may make it out to the public. "Not everything there's gonna launch," he says. "Some of it will over time." Facebook frequently runs small tests on new products (see: four different posting interfaces found within one office), and usually waits for data to come in on how effective they are before planning a wider launch.
Zuckerberg somewhat-accidentally revealed the potential changes while discussing the launch of Facebook Live on Wednesday. Verge reader Dylan Myers alerted us to the changes. The demo starts shortly after the seven-minute mark in his broadcast, which you can watch below.