Facebook’s new algorithm brings “worthwhile” and “close friend” content to more news feeds
Social media giant Facebook has adjusted its news feed algorithm to bring you more “worthwhile” content, as well as show you things that have been posted by the people closest to you. The company has achieved this alteration by applying data from surveys to its algorithm, and it seems likely to reduce the impact of pages that show a lot of clickbait, as well as the influence of Facebook accounts that are made under false identities.
Facebook’s share price has appreciated by 37% so far this year
Source: Yahoo Finance
Facebook surveyed users about which links they followed and found most rewarding. It then used software to discover patterns of user data that could be connected with the survey results, building a picture of what kind of content was most appreciated. Likewise, the company surveyed users about who their closest friends were, then used software to knit this into patterns like who you’re featured in photos with the most, who you interact with the most, etc. The company’s new algorithms will redesign content flow in the news feed, and are based on two underlying assumptions: first, that people want more of the content they found rewarding; and second, that they want to see more stuff from their self-identified close friends.
These assumptions are fair enough, and link in with founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent strategic pivots. Now, Facebook isn’t all about how much time you spend on the platform – it’s about the quality of that time. That means winnowing fake news and other problematic content off the site, reducing the impact of content that is acceptable but low quality, and upping the focus on close relationships and private communication.
To many digital denizens, this sounds like so much utopian nonsense – Facebook’s business model is all about selling advertising, isn’t it? In that case, its goal should be getting people to spend as much time on the news feed as possible. But as digital spaces mature, that goal has become synonymous with providing an enjoyable experience that actually adds value to the user experience. In the long term, people come back because they want to.
Dominion holds Facebook in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund. Share price as at 20 May 2019.
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