Facebook's latest News Feed overhaul puts stories you want to see at the top

Facebook knows everything about you, from who your friends and family are to what you like and where you’ve been. It even knows the posts you draft but never publish. Combine all that information with the power of the like button, which signals to Facebook that a post should be shared more widely, and the network should know exactly what to show in your News Feed every day. But it doesn’t—not even close. The Facebook News Feed algorithm can be infuriating. It won’t show me all of my best friend’s posts, which I obviously want to see, but it will surface a photo someone I barely know has liked. 

That’s about to change. Facebook knows that it hasn’t perfected the News Feed, so it’s making some tweaks that will take more than just likes, comments, and shares into account when showing you News Feed stories.

The network will now use the information about the stories you typically like, comment on, share, or click on and combine that with the stories it thinks you might want at the top of your feed to determine what you see first when you open Facebook every day (or every hour).

The changes are based in part on results from Facebook’s Feed Quality Panel, a sample group of more than 1,000 Facebook users who tell the network what they want to see and rate their Facebook experience on a daily basis. Maybe you’ve seen some of these survey questions at the top of your feed. Facebook is listening to that feedback, apparently.

“We will rank stories higher in feed which we think people might take action on, and which people might want to see near the top of their News Feed,” Facebook software engineers Cheng Zhang and Si Chen wrote in a Monday blog post.

The impact on you at home: Like previous News Feed changes, which have killed click-bait, like-bait, spam, hoaxes, and other types of annoying posts, Monday’s tweaks will likely make your News Feed a more enjoyable experience. Any downside for these changes would be for businesses, because Facebook might start to recognize that just because you like a business’s post doesn’t mean you want their stories appearing at the top of your News Feed. Those updates might be pushed down your feed, making you less likely to see them or click on them. Facebook is advising page owners to “avoid encouraging people to take an action” because it might throw off the News Feed algorithm and cause a negative tip in the scales when the feed rebalances itself.


Caitlin McGarry

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