Just when you thought Facebook News Feed cannot get any worse (or better, depending on your disposition), the folks at Facebook have now gone ahead to further tweak it. I had already accepted my fate that due to the algorithm-based system of lining up items on my timeline, I’ll miss a lot of posts/updates because Facebook figured some updates were not important enough for me. So in what other ways can Facebook hurt me again?
The short answer is, one tweak at a time. This time around, Facebook News feed has being tweaked to show you more of those news you spend more time reading. Or to put it another way, your timeline would now give priority to post/updates you actually love reading.
Perhaps, the Facebook post announcing how the new algorithm works explains it better:
“For example, we’ve found that there are stories people don’t like or comment on that they still want to see, such as articles about a serious current event, or sad news from a friend. Based on this finding, we previously updated News Feed’s ranking to factor in how much time you spend reading a post within News Feed, regardless of whether you opened the article. We also previously updated News Feed’s ranking to take into account times when someone clicked on an article and came straight back to News Feed as we learned that this often happened when the article someone clicked on wasn’t what they had expected from the post or the headline.”
Okay, so far so good. But that doesn’t tell us a lot about the process that led to a final decision. Apparently, this new update took into consideration the last News Feed update as a basis for this new tweak:
“Building on this work, we’re learning that the time people choose to spend reading or watching content they clicked on from News Feed is an important signal that the story was interesting to them. We are adding another factor to News Feed ranking so that we will now predict how long you spend looking at an article in the Facebook mobile browser or an Instant Article after you have clicked through from News Feed. This update to ranking will take into account how likely you are to click on an article and then spend time reading it.”
I guess that explains it better. I can imagine the number of times I clicked on a link only to immediately go back to my news feed after finding out the item I clicked on was just rubbish. Known in the industry as click baits, these articles are headlined in a way to pique our curiosity and click on them. So, Facebook News Feed would now seek to stop showing those sorts of stuff on your timeline. That is, if like me, you don’t really read them.
In a way, this might be good news to people who publish serious instant articles on Facebook. At least I know that in my own case, articles or links to articles that appear on my timeline are likely to be stuff I enjoy reading and I actually spend time reading them to the end. I wished this also takes care of the useless links some friends post on my timeline. That is asking for a miracle I guess. No harm in dreaming.
The tweaked Facebook News Feed is already been rolled out for Facebook users. And the roll out would continue over the coming weeks until the over a billion users of Facebook get the update. The update would affect both our personal feeds and feeds from pages we are following on Facebook.
photo credits: pcadvisor.co.uk; limetreeonline.com