Facebook’s News Feed Gets Personal
Facebook hasn’t actually always had a News Feed. For a lot of people it may be hard to remember this simpler time, but when the social media platform was first getting started in 2006 the focus was on wall-to-wall exchanges between friends. There was no way to track events, follow news, or see what other people were doing. If you wanted to engage, you had to go to the wall.
Today we live in a more complex world, and Mark Zuckerberg’s company has continued to evolve along with the rest of technology. Facebook has a long history of adding new products and developing what is on offer based on what its users seem to want. A quick glance at its core values, which include both making it a “platform for all ideas” and keeping it a place where “friends and family come first” is proof enough of that. Some might say, however, that somewhere over the years the Facebook team lost its way. Now Zuckerberg seems to be trying to get back to basics.
Meeting Demands of a Changing Society
The idea that we are all struggling to keep up with how quickly the digital world changes is not new to anyone reading this, or indeed anyone who operates a computer, tablet or smartphone in any way at all. Social media platforms are no exception; we are still learning how to interact with them, how to treat people on them, and what we want from them.
To the credit of the Facebook team, they are constantly researching how to give us what they want, stick to their core values and turn a profit at the same time – truly no easy feat. Things have gone badly at times, such as with the deluge of fake news that was seen around the last United States Presidential Elections. However, Facebook continues to rise to its challenges and the French Presidential Elections that followed were associated with considerably less fake news headlines on the platform. Facebook has also joined forces with Google and Twitter to use digital tools to weed out fake stories.
The other thing that has gotten out of hand, according to many Facebook users, is the amount of pages, news stories and unwanted information that they are seeing in their News Feed. As ever, Zuckerberg has heard the people and wants to give them what they want. With a new algorithm, Facebook is to move away from the focus on pages and events and back towards family and friends.
The Specifics of Facebook’s New Algorithm
Facebook has always used your behaviour to help determine what to show you in your News Feed. Different items are given different scores according to how much they interest you, and they are then shown to you in varying orders according to how much you happen to be checking your feed. For example, if you follow a leading online casino’s page to see what promotions they have and regularly comment on them, its updates will appear more regularly in your News Feed. Or, if you regularly like new posts from a particular brand of clothing, musician or band, this page will take priority over those that you never engage with.
What is happening now however is that the stories that involve your nearest and dearest, as determined by how much you interact with their posts and activities, will be given top priority. Publishers stories and unpaid ads will be ranked lower, although paid advertisers are not too worried about being adversely affected because their posts will still be displayed. The more you have interacted with similar types of posts in the past, including slowing down your scrolling to read them, is also taken into account in the new algorithm.
As you keep interacting with Facebook and liking things that you genuinely want to see more of, your News Feed will fit your preferences more. Use your own controls such as Unfollow and Read First to shape what you see even more. If you’re very committed, you can even take part in the Facebook Panel and Surveys that allows the team to check how accurately they are predicting what you want in your feed. The social media platform is here to stay and can be a great tool; we just need to use it intelligently and help with its constant improvement efforts.