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The Many “Faces” of Facebook

As usual, Facebook loves to keep its users on their toes. However this time, it appears they’re trying to listen to their users. After some backlash the platform received based on its lack of news-based information: i.e. Ice Bucket dumping instead of Ferguson coverage,  they decided to respond. Facebook announced that it’s making changes to the News Feed flow (again) focusing on pushing more timely posts to its users.

This change doesn’t just apply to major news events either. Facebook has said it’s hoping to increase engagement by maintaining relevant feeds in correspondence with TV shows, sports, and other “hot topics.” Previously, Twitter has held the advantage in these waters, will Facebook be able to compete?

“We’ve heard feedback that there are some instances where a post from a friend or a Page you are connected to is only interesting at a specific moment, for example when you are both watching the same sports game, or talking about the season premiere of a popular TV show,” software engineer Erich Owens and engineering manager David Vickrey wrote in a blog post. “There are also times when a post that is a day or two old may not be relevant to you anymore.”

With the new algorithm adjustments Facebook is starting to make, stories that are “trending” or currently interesting to the public, will be boosted. These changes are being rolled out slowly, but you may start to see the newsfeed becoming more relevant to you.

So what will these changes mean for engagement? It means that when a friend or a page you follow talks about a topic that is currently popular on Facebook, that post is going to get higher priority on the newsfeed and will be delivered to you in a more timely manner. The testing that has been done so far shows that this update leads to an average of more than a 6% higher engagement rate.

Another change in this update will include Facebook favoring posts by the rate at which they’re being engaged with, rather than merely pure quantity. This means that if something is getting a lot of engagement for an hour after it is posted, but engagement dies down a few hours later, it is likely the post was only popular for the time that it was relevant. Therefore Facebook will work to make a story appear as a priority when it’s being engaged, and move it lower in the newsfeed once that engagement plummets.

So more specifically, what is this going to do to your newsfeed? As much as Facebook loves to mess with us, they’re assuring us no major differences will appear with this adjustment. “If a Page posts about a trending topic or if a post sees a high velocity of engagement early on that then drops off that post may begin to see increased distribution early on and less distribution over time.” The hope is that this will be a happy change, rather than one that causes disgruntlement. 

Do you think this change will make your newsfeed more relevant to you? Or are you worried the constant adjustments will give you Facebook whiplash?