A Change Is Coming To Your FB Newsfeed

by Eliza Castile

Most people get at least some of their news through social media — those platforms are no longer just sources for the typical announcements that yet another college friend is happily engaged (and coincidental reminders that your closest relationship is with your pizza delivery man), but stories about what's going on in the world outside your social circle, as well. As a result, Facebook's News Feed algorithm has been tweaked extensively over the years. Just last week, the site began taking steps to filter clickbait headlines, and as of yesterday, it's changed once again: On Thursday, Facebook announced that the algorithm has been updated to prioritize news stories that are relevant to users' individual interests.

"Today, we’re making an update — adding another of many signals we take into account when ranking feed — to do a better job of showing people stories that they find informative," Facebook writes on their site. To that end, the site had thousands of users rate each item in their feed based on how informative the story was, and according to the results, stories tended to be more highly rated if they were "related to [users'] interests, if they engage people in broader discussions and if they contain news about the world around them." In short, not all news is created equal in the eyes of a Facebook user; you're more likely to find information useful if it's personally relevant.

Now, Facebook has changed its News Feed algorithm to prioritize stories with these qualities, combining factors like your commenting history, links you've clicked on in the past, and your relationship with the publisher (or person) who posted the link. If you can't resist the urge to follow every Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift conspiracy theory that graces your screen, for instance, stories related to that may show up higher in your News Feed than that of your friend who hasn't even seen The Avengers.

This comes mere weeks after a different major change to the News Feed algorithm; in late June, Facebook updated the feed to emphasize stories from users' friends and family rather than news outlets after allegations that the site suppressed conservative news content. But this doesn't mean your News Feed will change drastically either way; Facebook anticipates that the majority of pages "won’t see any significant changes to their distribution in News Feed." As long as they're posting informative content — at least by Facebook's definition — most pages should remain largely untouched. In the meantime, individual users should see content that's more tailored to their hobbies, whether those are celebrity gossip or watching kitten videos for hours at a time.

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