Facebook tweaks News Feed so you never miss a major moment

If you’ve ever noticed that some people pop up in your News Feed more than others, you’re seeing Facebook’s ranking algorithms at work. Now those algorithms are supposed to work even better.

For users who don’t have time to scroll all the way through the stories posted since they last logged in, Facebook now will resurface older stories to the top of your News Feed if they’re popular enough—meaning, news of an engagement or a promotion that garners lots of likes will stick to the top of your Feed so you can see it.

Facebook
Facebook illustrates how it will push older stories you missed to the top of your News Feed.

It’s not a drastic change, but Facebook engineer Lars Backstrom said tweaking News Feed’s algorithm will help users see more interesting stories. Facebook users read about 57 percent of their News Feed stories without scrolling down to see the rest. In beta tests of the algorithm change, the number of read stories jumped to 70 percent.

Some users, including some of Facebook’s own shareholders, have publicly wondered why and how Facebook chooses which stories you see in your News Feed while hiding others. There’s a pretty technical method to the madness.

There are, on average, about 1,500 stories to see every time a Facebook user logs in. Facebook chooses 300 to surface in the News Feed.

“With so many stories, there is a good chance people would miss something they wanted to see if we displayed a continuous, unranked stream of information,” Backstrom wrote in a Tuesday blog post. “Our ranking isn’t perfect, but in our tests, when we stop ranking and instead show posts in chronological order, the number of stories people read and the likes and comments they make decrease.”

Facebook picks up on the people you engage with the most, the types of stories you like or comment on, and what kind of stories you hide from your Feed to continuously tweak the ranking algorithm.

Backstrom said Facebook will begin sharing those News Feed changes more publicly going forward.

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