POV: Facebook Tweaks to Promote High News Content
MINDSHARE POINT OF VIEW – Facebook is recognizing that people are increasingly using social media as a filter to help consume news content (Pew Research Centre found 64% of US adults use Facebook daily and half of these users consume news on the site) and is changing its algorithms to favour what it has termed ‘high quality content'.
Facebook reported in a recent blog post that the average referral traffic from Facebook to media sites has almost tripled in the past year. The new method of ranking the news content shared on the site feeds into the algorithms which decide what surfaces in peoples’ News Feeds. The systems also pays close attention to what people click on their mobiles, and will rank the content accordingly. Therefore, the change will be most visible for those who use Facebook on mobile. Two other upcoming changes have also been announced. Firstly, the site will begin showing users recommended articles - after you’ve clicked an article link, links to three other relevant articles will be shown directly beneath the News Feed post that you clicked on. The second change will be that old articles which you’ve commented on will resurface in your feed if it has new comments from your friends; something Facebook hopes will provoke more conversations around articles.
It’s unclear how users will react to these changes. Currently, unlike Twitter where activity from your entire social graph is shown in a chronological feed, Facebook’s algorithm picks content based on what, and who, you tend to interact with. This formula is customisable to an extent. Users can take a survey or choose to have their News Feed arranged in chronological order, but Facebook tries to push users away from this set up as it finds that people tend to interact with fewer stories. These changes mean that content that hasn’t been produced by users’ friends will be more likely to surface than before, which could irritate users who come to the site to for personal news and not mainstream news.
Facebook is continually evolving its algorithm to react to how users interact on the site. This is the latest in a number of recent product updates that have sought to make the network more relevant to current events and a better place to discover news, something which puts it in more direct competition with Twitter.