Changes In The Facebook News Feed and Plans For the Future

Facebook has yet again instituted changes to the News Feed. However, this time it appears that those changes are well received. First, Facebook has decided to give their users greater transparency and publish changes that they are making to the algorithm that determines what posts you see. Second, Facebook has launched “Story Bumping,” which brings stories you have not yet seen to the top of your news feed. In the future, Facebook is also considering News Feed changes that will more closely resemble the feed of Twitter.

The Algorithm

The News Feed is obviously the most used feature on Facebook; however, most of us are absolutely clueless as to how Facebook chooses what posts it will show. Facebook has decided to start posting blog updates about changes to the algorithm and how it works. The average user has about 15,000 posts per day that could appear on the News Feed. However, the Facebook algorithm whittles that number down to about 300, largely due to data showing that users dislike the unfiltered News Feed and that it leads to less interaction. Now, users can see how the website chooses the updates that we do see.

Story Bumping & Last Actor

The first new update that Facebook has announced in its blog is Story Bumping. Story Bumping refers to Facebook bumping updates that you have not seen to the top of your News Feed rather than choosing the most popular posts to appear first. Testing has shown that Story Bumping is popular; it has led to a 5% increase in comments, likes and shares. It is also causing users to read about 70% of visible stories rather than 57%.

In addition to Story Bumping, Facebook recently made another algorithm change called “last actor.” This takes the last 50 interactions you’ve had with friends and uses that as another factor in choosing what updates you will see. With these changes, Facebook is hoping to improve its ability to bring relevant content to its users.

Future Plans

In the future, some speculate that Facebook with further tweak the News Feed to appear more like the feed on Twitter. Facebook has been testing the “Chronological By Actor” format. This sorting method would bring you a chronological News Feed from newest to oldest, but within that chronology it sorts post by relevance. Real-time updates are one of the most popular aspects of Twitter, as it becomes more and more used for breaking news and live-tweeting important events. Along with its recent introduction of hashtags, Facebook is growing closer and closer to a Twitter-style interface.

What updates would you like to see to the News Feed?

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Elizabeth K

Elizabeth Kent is a recent graduate with an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from Brandeis University. She earned her B.A. from Smith College with a major in the Study of Women and Gender and a minor in Jewish Studies. Elizabeth recently relocated from the Boston area back to Western Massachusetts, where she spends her free time volunteering with a local non-profit organization. Elizabeth has worked as a writing tutor, archival intern, research assistant, and retail associate. Her interests include studying pop culture, kittens, and making meals with as little cooking as possible.

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