Facebook’s Tom Alison wants to catch up with rival TikTok

Tom Alison, Head of Facebook App at Meta, has asked Facebook employees to change the platform’s algorithms to make it more like its rival TikTok that is gaining popularity among the teenagers.
Facebook for SMERather than prioritize posts from accounts people follow, Facebook’s main feed will, like TikTok, start recommending posts regardless of where they come from, Tom Alison said in an internal memo to its employees, The Verge reports.

The other directive to employees is that years after Messenger and Facebook split up as separate apps, the two will be brought back together, mimicking TikTok’s messaging functionality.

The company realizes that its short-form video platform Reels is not enough to threaten TikTok.

Executives were closely tracking TikTok’s moves and had grown worried that they weren’t doing enough to compete. In conversations with CEO Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year, they decided that Facebook needed to rethink the feed entirely.

While Instagram has morphed to look more like TikTok with its focus on Reels, executives hope that a similar treatment to Facebook will reverse the app’s stagnant growth and potentially lure back young people.

TikTok users are spending more time on the app than ever before. The number of users of TikTok grew 800 percent between 2018 and 2020.

Currently, there are more than 50 million daily users of the Chinese app in the US, and growing.

TikTok’s downloads were 20 percent higher than Facebook’s and 21 percent higher than Instagram last year, according to mobile app research firm Sensor Tower.

Apple iPhone users, on average, spent 78 percent more time on TikTok than on Facebook in the first quarter this year.

Meta in February this year launched Facebook Reels for iOS and Android to more than 150 countries across the globe.

Instagram said this month that it is extending the length of Reels up to 90 seconds, which will help users express their most authentic selves on Reels.