Facebook Changes News Feed To Prioritize Friends over Publishers
While Facebook has increasingly become the top platform for news publishers that want to maximize their exposure to readers, the social networking site said the latest tweaks to its News Feed algorithm are aimed at ensuring that "friends and family come first."
Facebook regularly makes changes to how and in what order new posts appear on users' News Feeds. In April, for example, it began factoring in how much time users spent viewing each update to determine how relevant and interesting new posts are.
Meanwhile, the company's handling of content from publishers in its trending news story feature came under fire last month after Gizmodo published a lengthy article describing the working conditions for Facebook's human "news curators."
While the article called attention to a number of curator complaints, the claim that curators regularly avoided sites like The Blaze and Breitbart drew follow-up criticism of bias from some political conservatives. CEO Mark Zuckerberg later met with some of those critics, including American television personality and radio host Glenn Beck.
'Not In Business of Picking Issues'
"We've heard from our community that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about," engineering director Lars Backstrom wrote today in a Facebook news update. "For people with many connections this is particularly important, as there are a lot of stories for them to see each day."
To ensure that users see the most important updates from friends and family members first Facebook will be making further adjustments to News Feed over the coming weeks, Backstrom added.
In a separate news post also published today, Adam Mosseri, vice president of product management for News Feed, noted those adjustments are not only aimed at keeping users in touch with friends and family first, but in ensuring that updates are both informative and entertaining.
"We are not in the business of picking which issues the world should read about," Mosseri noted. "We are in the business of connecting people and ideas -- and matching people with the stories they find most meaningful."
'Constant Iteration' for News Feed
Mosseri said that the handling of News Feed, a feature of Facebook since 2006, has long been guided by a set of values, which the company has now posted on its site. One element in that guide is that Facebook is "a platform for all ideas."
"We don't favor specific kinds of sources -- or ideas," according to the News Feed Values page. "Our aim is to deliver the types of stories we've gotten feedback that an individual person most wants to see. We do this not only because we believe it's the right thing but also because it's good for our business."
Mosseri added in his post that Facebook also aims for "constant iteration" in its handling of News Feed. "As News Feed evolves, we'll continue building easy-to-use and powerful tools to give you the most personalized experience," he said. "We view our work as only 1 percent finished -- and are dedicated to improving along the way."