Lately, it seems as if Facebook is trying to compete with Google with regard to the amount of times it can change its algorithm. Ever since Facebook launched News Feed in September 2006, the social media network has tweaked and modified its News Feed algorithm repeatedly with hopes of improving the user experience.
In early August, Facebook updated its News Feed algorithm again—this time, using feedback collected from human surveys. Here’s a close look at the details behind Facebook’s latest algorithm update, along with brief highlights of previous News Feed algorithm changes.
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Facebook polls hundreds of thousands of users as part of its Feed Quality Program to find out which News Feed stories they rank most informative on a scale of one to five, with one being defined as “really not informative” and five being “really informative”.
Facebook then combines feedback from these surveys with data on how users interact with News Feed stories, such as whether the stories they click on are posted by close friends, or whether the stories generate comments, likes, and shares. Facebook then uses these factors to assign relevancy scores to stories, and to determine where the stories should appear in the News Feed. For instance, a person who regularly interacts with celebrity content may see more celebrity stories ranked higher in News Feed on behalf of the algorithm change.
This latest algorithm change comes on the heels of Facebook’s June algorithm change, which ranked stories from friends and family higher than stories from other publishers. Facebook turned to human surveys this time around after users expressed fears about having unimportant posts from friends and family rank higher than important current events and news updates.
The News Feed algorithm is updated to rank posts from friends and family higher than posts meant to inform and entertain.
The News Feed algorithm is changed to rank stories higher based on criteria such as the date of the story, user interest in the publisher, story popularity among other users, past story performance of the publisher, and the type of story a particular user wants to see.
Facebook starts ranking live videos higher in News Feed, since data finds that live videos are viewed three times longer than videos that are previously recorded and uploaded.
Facebook ranks News Feed stories according to how it predicts users will rate and interact with stories based on likes, shares, and comments.
Facebook releases a mobile update that allows users to only view News Feed stories that their devices can handle based on connection speed.
Facebook starts monitoring the amount of time users spend viewing certain stories. Stories that people spend more time reading are more likely to show up in friends’ News Feeds as well. Additionally, Facebook rolls out a News Feed feature called See First, where users can choose the friends and Pages they want displayed at the top of News Feed when these users post new stories and updates.
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