Facebook announced this week that they were tweaking the News Feed algorithm again. In an add-on press release they shared a set of core values that they use when making improvements to the News Feed.
“These values — which we’ve been using for years — guide our thinking, and help us keep the central experience of News Feed intact as it evolves. In our continued efforts to be transparent about how we think about News Feed, we want to share those values with you.”
Facebook’s main goal is to get people the stories that they want to see and show updates that matter most to each user. The News Feed is “subjective, personal and unique.” Using these core values helps Facebook determine what information is seen in a user’s News Feed.
In addition to the values, Facebook’s research also found that users believe the News Feed should inform and it should entertain. These are two very strong expectations that users have when it comes to their Feed.
Facebook users expect that their News Feed will contain interesting and informative updates. However, each person has a different idea of what is interesting and informative. Facebook works to better understand what each individual user finds informative and ranks those updates higher in the Feed of that user.
Facebook also found that people want their Feed to be entertaining. For some this could mean following a celebrity or an athlete. It could also mean watching Live video or viewing funny photos. Facebook attempts to understand what users are watching/reading most and then tries to predict what each individual user finds entertaining.
In addition to these expectations, Facebook has outlined several core values they reference when determining the rank of posts. These values include:
Friends & Family Come First
Facebook was created to connect people. It was built to provide a connection between people and their friends and family. This has been the driving force of the News Feed and continues to be today.
Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook.
Updates from friends and family are posted toward the top of the News Feed. Over time Facebook actually learns from what you like/comment/share and will begin to put content similar to this closer to the top of your individual Feed.
A Platform for All Ideas
Facebook has clearly explained that they are “not in the business of picking which issues the world should read about.” Facebook IS in the business of connecting people and ideas and then matching people to updates that are most meaningful to the individual.
Recently Republicans accused Facebook of having a bias against conservative news. Facebook has denied any preferential treatment when determining what shows in News Feeds.
Facebook clearly states, “we don’t favor specific kinds of sources — or ideas. 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.”
If someone is more interested in Republican based news stories, they will likely see more of those stories. On the other hand if a user reads more news from the Democrats they will likely see more of those types of stories.
Facebook is more concerned with people seeing the content that they are most interested in, because this means they will then spend more time on their News Feed and will enjoy Facebook.
Facebook states that they have gotten feedback that shows stories that resonate the most with users are those that are authentic. Facebook works very hard to determine the types of stories and updates that people find to be genuine. These stories and updates are then shown more in the News Feed. Additionally, Facebook works hard to determine what people think is spammy or misleading in order to show these stories less.
User Controlled Experience
Ultimately, the main goal of the News Feed is to show what is most meaningful to each individual user. Facebook provides controls that allow people to customize what they see on their own. There are features users can select to help customize their News Feeds, including “unfollow,” “hide” and “see first.”
Hiding a story then signals Facebook that you are less interested in seeing that sort of content, thus you will see fewer updates related to the story you hid.
Facebook did go on to explain that they would be adding more features and tools to allow users to personalize their experience even more.
Facebook feels that they are only 1% finished with the work they are doing on the site. They are dedicated to improving the site and experience for users.
As we look for ways to get better, we will continue soliciting feedback. We will be as open as we can — providing explanations in News Feed FYI wherever possible and looking for opportunities to share how we work.
For more information and greater detail on Facebook’s Core Values see Adam Mosseri’s update in the Facebook Newsroom.