Facebook is rolling out the latest change to its news feed algorithm, tipping its emphasis back towards status updates, photos, videos and links posted by friends on the social network.
Posts from Facebook pages and media organisations will still appear in the news feed, but reading between the lines of the company’s blog post about the changes, they seem likely to receive less priority after the change.
“People are worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about. For people with many connections this is particularly important, as there is a lot of content for them to see each day,” wrote Facebook product manager Max Eulenstein and user experience researcher Lauren Scissors in the post.
Here’s how they explain the aims of the latest algorithm tweak:
“Content posted directly by the friends you care about, such as photos, videos, status updates or links, will be higher up in News Feed so you are less likely to miss it. If you like to read news or interact with posts from pages you care about, you will still see that content in News Feed. This update tries to make the balance of content the right one for each individual person.”
Alongside that, there’s a change to make less posts appear in people’s news feeds simply because a friend has liked or commented on them – even if they were originally posted by a stranger or a page that the user doesn’t follow.
“Many people have told us they don’t enjoy seeing stories about their friends liking or commenting on a post. This update will make these stories appear lower down in News Feed or not at all, so you are more likely to see the stuff you care about directly from friends and the pages you have liked,” wrote Eulenstein and Scissors.
That should at least address the issue of Facebook users commenting on friends’ not-necessarily-safe-for-family updates and thus catapulting those posts into the news feeds of their families and other friends.
Alongside these tweaks, Facebook is removing a rule that people cannot see multiple posts from the same source in a row in its news feed, which it says will help people who don’t have many friends “spend more time in News Feed” without running out of things to read.
As with any change made to Facebook’s news feed algorithm, which is responsible for narrowing down the 1,500-odd posts that an average user could see each day to the 300 or so that actually appear in their feed, businesses running pages on the social network will be anxiously exploring the impact on their reach.
That reach – the number of people who’ve liked a page who actually see any one of its updates – has been in decline for some time, leading to grumbles from some companies and marketers that Facebook deliberately uses algorithmic tweaks to encourage them to pay for ads to boost their reach back up again.
In the latest case, Facebook claims the impact could vary. “The impact of these changes on your page’s distribution will vary considerably depending on the composition of your audience and your posting activity,” wrote Eulenstein and Scissors. “In some cases, post reach and referral traffic could potentially decline.”
This article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 22nd April 2015 08.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010