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Facebook to change News Feed to a ‘personalized newspaper’

This screengrab of Facebook's streaming news feed event shows the social network's new layout, which focuses heavily on visual elements. (Screengrab by Hayley Tsukayama/Screengrab by Hayley Tsukayama)

Facebook announced a revamp of its News Feed Thursday, unveiling a minimalist design that puts a central focus on photos, graphics and video the company hopes will attract new advertisers.

The News Feed, which provides a running list of updates from a user’s network, will serve as a “personalized newspaper” for Facebook’s 1 billion users, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said at a news conference at the company’s California headquarters.

The redesign is critical in Facebook’s effort to convince advertisers of the value of working with the social network. The company already allows users to pay to promote posts, buy goods through its network and buy gift cards directly from the site.

The tech giant has struggled to convince investors of its business model, and Facebook shares remain far below their initial public offering price of $38. But investors cheered the new design Thursday, pushing the stock up 4 percent, to close at $28.58.

The redesign could benefit companies that can quickly attract consumers’ attention with eye-catching advertising. It could also hurt smaller companies that can’t sink a lot of money into complex campaigns, said Peter LaMotte, who leads the digital team at Levick, a District-based communications firm.

“It’s no longer about being prepared to buy your way” onto a user’s News Feed, he said. “You have to make engaging content.”

The page design will be the same on the company’s mobile site, which has become increasingly important as Facebook users shift to accessing the site mainly from smartphones and tablets. In the last quarter of 2012, Facebook’s number of mobile daily active users outnumbered its desktop users for the first time.

The effort could also help keep Facebook users engaged — and on the site longer. The company has acknowledged that some of its younger users have migrated to alternative social networks.

The new design is open to a small test group and is set to roll out across the network over the next few weeks.

(Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board.)

Related stories:

Facebook sends invite promising ‘new look for the News Feed’

University of California chancellor is second woman to join Facebook board of directors

Fatigue or not, Facebook to unveil ‘new look’ for its News Feed on Thursday

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The minimalist design puts a central focus on photos, graphics and video.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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