Regular – and not so regular – users of Facebook know that the social media network favours those posts that they and their friends have liked, commented on and shared in their News Feed, but Facebook is taking things a step further by taking into account the amount of time spent looking at a post.
Facebook took to its own Newsroom blog to explain the context, which is that “people want to see information about a serious current event, but don’t necessarily want to like or comment on it.” The social media network has also taken into account whether a user is actively using the site or whether it is open in a tab or window running in the background. In other words, if a user leaves the Facebook News Feed open and leaves the computer or device, the updated News Feed algorithm is not fooled into thinking that content not being actively used should be bumped up the News Feed itself.
The latest move by Facebook is one of a number of News Feed algorithm changes rolled out over the course of the last year. August 2014 saw the announcement that Facebook intended demoting content deemed to have “click-bait headlines.” In April of this year, a further three changes were rolled out:
- In respect of those users posting minimal content, Facebook now puts multiple posts deriving from the same source in a row.
- Facebook now ranks posts from friends higher than content from Facebook pages, so users do not miss out on what their friends are doing.
- Facebook has reduced the number of posts about friends liking or commenting on a page after receiving complaints. In some instances, this type of content will not appear in a News Feed at all.
The most recent change to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm is good news for those writing services producing engaging articles but not necessarily gaining the type of Facebook exposure they otherwise might have been hoping for. The change also represents a move by Facebook to keep itself relevant in the battle for user attention with other social media platforms, including Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest. The newest algorithm change will be rolled out fully over the next few weeks.