Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg boasted about an odd thing on a Wednesday earnings call. He was happy that people haven’t been wasting their time over his site.
To prove his point, Zuckerberg revealed that time spent over Facebook declined by about 50 million hours per day in last year’s fourth quarter.
That’s a metric no executive would normally tout. In terms of business, the drop equates to a 5 percent reduction in time spent over the social networking service.
But to Zuckerberg, the decline is a good thing. “Helping people connect is more important than maximizing the time they spend on Facebook, he said during the call.
Facebook’s CEO made the statement as his company embarks on overhauling the social networking service. His goal? To make Facebook better for society and not a drain on people’s well-being.
On Wednesday, Zuckerberg explained that the 50 million hour drop came from a change the company made last quarter to show fewer viral videos. Although these video clips can be entertaining, they can crowd out chances for Facebook users to connect with their friends and family over the platform, he said.
Facebook has 1.4 billion daily active users. So the time lost (or perhaps saved) amounted to an average of 2.1 minutes per user during the quarter.
“Now, we don’t normally share time metrics because they’re not the best way of understanding engagement,” he said. “But this shows how committed we are to making sure the time you spend on Facebook is valuable.”
The drop in time spent over the platform might not end there. This past month, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is revamping its News Feed. In the future, it’ll show less content from businesses, brands and media organizations in favor for posts from family, friends and groups you follow.
The company is making the change to encourage “meaningful interaction” with your friends over the service. This is because academic research suggests that merely consuming information over Facebook, but never interacting with other users, can be bad for your mental health.
Although the upcoming changes may hurt the company’s business at first, Zuckeberg predicts they’ll pay off by creating a better Facebook that users will care about more.
“By focusing on meaningful connections, our community and business will be stronger over the long term,” he wrote in a Facebook post on the same day.