Facebook announced that it’s once again fine-tuning its News Feed algorithm, this time in an effort to show you more posts and updates from your friends and family. The social media giant is hoping this will further its mission of being a service that not only informs but entertains its users.
Your News Feed will also begin to put more emphasis on surfacing posts deemed to be “authentic,” the thing Facebook says resonates most with users.
Facebook said that these updates will be rolling out “over the coming weeks.”
This isn’t the first time that Facebook has adjusted its News Feed algorithm. In fact, since its launch in 2006, there have been quite a few updates, each designed to ensure that your experience is spot on. Of course, Facebook hasn’t always succeeded, and many users have provided critical feedback to the company along the way, prompting further adjustments in the technology. Getting the News Feed right is far from easy, as it’s the main area where we spend time keeping up with our friends, family, groups, events, and the Pages we follow.
Not everyone has the same preferences in terms of what they want to see, and there are a lot of signals that need to be taken into consideration, so tweaks are needed from time to time. Facebook has tried surfacing more friends and family posts before, displaying posts with content such as photos, videos, status updates, and links from “friends you care about.” However, according to engineering director Lars Backstrom, people still were concerned about missing important updates from their friends.
Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s vice president of product management, wrote that the company’s top priority is “keeping you connected to the people, places, and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with…That’s why if it’s your friends, it’s in your feed, period…”
He explained that the algorithm will learn from your behavior, so if you have a connection listed as a family member, for example, and take an action such as liking one of their photos or commenting on a post, Facebook will take that as a signal to surface other posts by this person at the top of your News Feed.
Part of today’s retooling involves separating what’s “authentic” from spam and misleading content. Facebook admits that there’s no universal definition for what meets that criteria, as what might be considered informative varies from one user to another, but the company is “always working to better understand what is interesting and informative to you personally.” So while there will likely be an element of guesswork in the beginning, the company is seeking to reassure people that it’s not censoring any sources, something it was recently criticized for.
“We are not in the business of picking which issues the world should read about,” wrote Mosseri. “We are in the business of connecting people and ideas…Our integrity depends on being inclusive of all perspectives and viewpoints, and using ranking to connect people with the stories and sources they find the most meaningful and engaging.”
Backstrom said that some Page administrators could see reach and referral traffic decline, but the impact on distribution and other metrics may depend on “the composition of your audience.”
Facebook admits that it’s far from completing its mission to create the perfect News Feed. Previously, it has updated its algorithm to factor in time spent on articles, and it also factors in the probability of you seeing a story, along with the likelihood of some action being taken. The company claims it has only completed 1 percent of its work to date, so expect more updates in the future.
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