Facebook News Feed: 5 Changes - InformationWeek

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6/28/2014
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Facebook News Feed: 5 Changes

Gone are the days when Facebook showed you every post from every friend. Here's a look at Facebook's latest News Feed algorithm changes and how they affect the content you see.

Facebook Privacy: 10 Settings To Check
Facebook Privacy: 10 Settings To Check
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Once upon a time, Facebook showed you every post from every Friend and Page you followed. But as Facebook -- and your own network -- grew, it added an element to eliminate clutter and serve you the most relevant content: its News Feed algorithm.

Facebook gives you two ways to sort your News Feed: either by top stories, which prioritizes popular content, or by most recent, which prioritizes a combination of the newest posts with your Friends' latest comments. You can flip between these views by clicking the News Feed dropdown menu from your left-side navigation.

Whether you love or loathe Facebook's algorithm, it's here to stay, and the social network maintains that the changes it makes are designed to benefit you.

[Facebook's latest privacy changes include some welcome improvements. Read Facebook Privacy: 10 Settings To Check.]

"The goal of News Feed is to show the right content to the right people at the right time, whether it's from a close friend or a news source halfway across the world," Facebook's Varun Kacholia, engineering manager, and Minwen Ji, software engineer, wrote in a December blog post.

Facebook has made a number of changes to the way it serves you videos, news, ads, and memes over the past few months. Here's a look at its most significant algorithm updates and how they affect the content you see in your News Feed.

1. Facebook serves you less spam
The network announced plans in April to crack down on the spammy content that clutters users' News Feeds, such as photos or videos that users and Pages repeatedly upload and posts that explicitly ask users to comment or Like.

"We are improving News Feed to deemphasize these Pages, and our early testing shows that this change causes people to hide 10% fewer stories from Pages overall," Facebook said in an blog post when the plan was announced. "Over time, these stories lead to a less enjoyable experience of Facebook since they drown out content from friends and Pages that people really care about."

To reduce the noise in users' News Feeds, Facebook targeted "like-baiting" posts from people and Pages, which ask readers to Like, comment, or share the post in order to get more distribution. According to Facebook, these types of posts are 15% less relevant than other stories with a comparable number of Likes, comments, and shares.

2. Facebook shows you fewer ads

Soon you'll see fewer of the ads that appear on the right side of your News Feed, Facebook announced this week. That's good news for users but bad news for marketers. The change also means these ads will cost businesses more.

"The redesign of right-hand column ads is part of an ongoing initiative to improve our ads in general," Facebook said when that change was announced. "These results suggest that we're on the right path: People are finding the new right-hand column ads more engaging, and advertisers therefore are getting more value for their ad impressions."

Because Facebook will serve users fewer right-hand-column ads, competition for ad space will increase -- as will the prices, the social network said. It would not say how much more marketers should expect to pay, but it acknowledged that all businesses may not welcome the price bump.

3. Expect to see more videos -- if you watch them
Because twice as many people watch videos on Facebook now as did just six months ago, Facebook announced a few updates this week that impact

Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
7/5/2014 | 7:30:11 AM
Re: What about "You won't believe what happened next" kind of post?
Thanks for the link, Kristin. 

It's good to know that sometimes it's good to follow your guts and don't click on what you find annoying on Facebook. :)

-Susan
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 2:44:01 PM
Re: What about "You won't believe what happened next" kind of post?
Often those types of posts are actually phishing attempts that propogate when others click on them, so it's smart that you avoid them. (Here's a story I wrote last year for more on how to identify Facebook scams.)
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 2:39:20 PM
Re: Facebook pages
Do you manage a Page for a business? I'd be interested to hear how these changes are affecting your strategy on Facebook. Do you plan to spend more or less on advertising?
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 2:38:06 PM
Re: algorithm needed or just a general clean up
@jgherbert, I tend to agree with you. Facebook gives you options like Lists and other ways to sort your News Feed for the exact purpose. Presumably, you know better than any algorithm which content you like and don't like.

I will say, however, that I've noticed some of these changes and I think they've benefitted me: I can't stand people who post and repost memes, and I never cared much about which of my friends liked photos on Instagram, particularly if they weren't from someone I know. These posts are few and far between now, which has helped declutter my feed.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
6/29/2014 | 7:57:25 AM
What about "You won't believe what happened next" kind of post?
Kristin, 

It's good to see Facebook has started to improve its News Feed algorithms and, for instance, eliminating the auto-posts from apps and over sharing of the same annoying post over and over.

However, part of what Facebook is becoming has to do with what users choose to post, like, share, etc. It would be nice if people start being more mindful at the time of posting stuff.

Also, the media sometimes is to blame, too. Headlines like "You won't believe what happened next" and others if its kind have started to appear on a daily basis.

I would like to see some starts on how many people fall into those traps. Personally, I always ignore them. I would like to have a button on Facebook which could let me block those posts. :/ 

-Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
6/29/2014 | 2:21:47 AM
Re: algorithm needed or just a general clean up
jgherbert,

"What would perhaps be ideal would be if these decisions were more optional. I'd love it if I could have a "everything from everybody" option (Facebook "Classic")"

I agree. That option would be ideal for people who don't collect people as if they were collectable objects just to put them in drawer of forgotten objects after a week. if you have 300 friends and pages on your Facebook by choice you might as well want to see what they post.

An opt-out button is also a good idea. :)

-Susan
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