NEW YORK, N.Y. – Facebook has once again tweaked the formula it uses to decide what people will see in their news feed — and this time, it’s personal.
The social media giant says it updated the news feed so that people will see more posts from their friends and family and not, say, the by New York Times or Buzzfeed.
To try to keep people glued to Facebook, it regularly updates the algorithm that decides what posts users see. With the latest update, the company says it’s focusing on what Facebook is for — connecting with people you know.
Here’s a look at some of the ways the company has changed the news feed, which launched in 2006, as well as some of the factors it uses in deciding what makes up your feed.
DOWN WITH CLICKBAIT?
Facebook tweaked its news feed in 2014 to clamp down on “clickbait,” posts with grabby headlines like “you won’t believe what happened next” that ultimately disappoint.
More clicks meant the posts would move higher in people’s news feeds, even if people didn’t really want to see them. How did Facebook decide what’s clickbait? For one, it knows how much time you spend reading an article. A quick click generally means users are not really interested in the post that was shared.
Facebook’s push worked. Users are much less likely to see clickbait on their news feed these days.
YOUR PERSONAL “NEWSPAPER”
In May 2013, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted the news feed to look more like a digital newspaper, filled with information tailored to each user. The company gave users more ways to decide what they want to see and what they don’t want to see on their feeds.
Later, the company expanded these tools, letting users pick whose posts they wanted to see first (you can still choose to highlight news articles if you are a news hound) and who they wanted to unfollow, or follow again after they unfollowed.
ADS ARE SEPARATE
The latest algorithm tweaks won’t affect how often you see advertisements, or as Facebook calls them, “sponsored posts.”
You can hide ads or tell Facebook you don’t want to see ads from a particular company, though. That will change what types of ads you see.
It’s in Facebook’s best interest to show its more than 1 billion daily users stuff that will keep them interested, and keep them coming back. To that end, the company says it surveys tens of thousands of users each day to get a more complete picture of what people want to see in their feeds.