Social media

Facebook Launches an Updated Vertical Video Display and Recommendations Algorithm

The TikTok-ification of social media more broadly continues, with Facebook rolling out a new, consistent full-screen video player, which will see all videos posted to the app expand to the TikTok-like vertical format.

As explained by Facebook:

“When you tap on a video anywhere on the Facebook app, you’ll now consistently see a fullscreen, vertically oriented video. Previously, depending on the length of the video or where you were watching, you may have seen horizontal videos or videos that played in a Feed-like player.

So all video clips posted to the app will now be available in a TikTok-like vertical feed, which is another amazing endorsement for the power that TikTok has had as an influential force in the industry.

You’ll also be able to flip your phone on “most videos” to watch in landscape view.

Facebook full screen video

In addition to the new playback format, Facebook’s also adding new controls, including a simplified Reactions UI, an improved slider along the bottom to scan through clips, and easy jump back and forward options.

Facebook full screen video

Meta’s also looking to improve its video recommendations to keep you watching:

“Within the upgraded fullscreen video player, we’ll also have improved recommendations for videos of all lengths we think you’re most likely to enjoy based on your interests. For example, we may recommend a Reel giving you inspiration for a quick, daily makeup routine or a longer tutorial video on DIY house improvements from experienced homeowners.”

Yeah, not a heap of insight into the algorithmic update at play there, though Meta has also shared this note for creators:

High-quality and engaging videos, regardless of type and length, perform well on Facebook. While we’ll recommend videos to people regardless of length or type, creators will notice that our updated recommendations will show even more Reels to match increased viewer demand.”

Also this:

While we know creators post their content across multiple platforms, simply uploading unedited, longer content from other platforms is unlikely to perform well in the future.

That’s a particularly interesting note, especially for those looking to repurpose content.

But essentially, Meta wants more Reels, and it’ll look to specifically amplify the best Reels via this new process.

Which is yet another endorsement of TikTok’s approach.

The short-form video app has had such a huge impact on social platform development, with virtually every platform looking to follow the traditional Meta playbook, and replicate the vertical video feed. TikTok’s popularity has been so significant that it’s effectively altered viewer behaviors, beyond just showing a roadmap for engagement, and that’s forced other platforms to reimagine their own processes, from recommendations to UI, in order to catch up.

Which makes it somewhat ironic that TikTok is also facing a potential ban in the U.S. due to concerns about its potential links to the C.C.P. Those concerns are based on the insight of cybersecurity experts, so they are, presumably, valid (we don’t have access to the full scope of these concerns). But it is also worth noting that Meta spends $20 million on political lobbyists every year, and significantly increased its budget for such in 2019. was renamed TikTok in August 2018. Though I imagine that these two events are a coincidence.

In any event, the Facebook video feed is about to get even more TikTok-like, as is the video feed on X, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc.

That should lead to more engagement, in line with evolving behaviors, particularly among younger audiences.

Facebook’s updated, fullscreen video player is being rolled out in the U.S. and Canada from today, with other regions to follow “later this year”, while the new video controls will be rolled out “over the next few weeks”.

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