Facebook’s Latest Algo Updates: What’s New?
For some time now, Facebook has been working on a way to limit fake news and to increase the quality of the content published on the platform. With content creators and consumers in mind, and with the aim of improving the overall user experience, FB has made some changes to its ranking algorithm.;
…to those who wait
Promoting longer videos
Unsurprisingly, Facebook has always favoured the direct uploading of native videos rather than users posting them directly via video-streaming juggernaut YouTube. In its latest mod, the Big F’s prosaically titled Newsfeed Ranking Algorithm has been modified to enhance the visibility and exposure of longer videos. Not so long ago, having analysed that live videos were viewed up to three times more than any other kind, FB sought to capitalise on live-streaming by heavily promoting its Facebook Live feature.
For these latest changes, how and when video content is displayed to you is what takes precedence, with additional criteria now being taken into account when determining a video’s ranking on your newsfeed. A major factor in these new modifications is what’s being referred to as a video’s “percent completion”. As the workmanlike title suggests, this indicates which videos Facebook users have shown a preference for by documenting exactly how far viewers got in a given clip. In an attempt to avoid longer videos being neglected, the new algorithm aims to give prominence to longer videos, as videos that are shorter in duration evidently catch and maintain viewers’ attention with greater ease.
Time is of the Essence
More accurate targeting of content
One of Facebook’s other objectives with these mods is to be more accurately attuned to the news and content that you follow and wish to see. If the algorithm sees that you’ve shown strong activity around a certain page, a particular publication or a subject that may interest you more generally, the probability of you seeing it ranked prominently on your newsfeed will be significantly higher. Temporal factors are now of increasing importance in this analysis. By way of example, imagine a rugby team is playing on a given week. A supporter who, through the data they generate online, demonstrates their appreciation for the sport generally and a special appreciation for a particular team is likely to see considerably more posts and news items about the team’s forthcoming match on the week that the match is due to take place, as opposed to weeks when they are not playing at all. In layman’s terms, at any other time, posts about rugby or this rugby team simply wouldn’t be as relevant to the user in question, so they won’t see as much about it on Facebook. This mechanism was already in place of course, but the new changes have refined it yet again. Don’t worry though lads, we know it’s still about two years until the next World Cup and you’ll definitely be seeing more posts about rugby before then.
The Proof is in the Programming
Facebook looking to favour “authenticity”
Facebook is increasingly aiming to highlight “authentic” content. But what exactly is authentic content? More importantly, what is inauthentic content? In the latter case, such content may be seen as pages that gain followers through artificial or coercive means, or pages that explicitly ask existing followers to like, share and comment on their publications. The new changes will penalise this kind of activity.
Pages that generate and share spam are another example of the kind of inauthentic content that Facebook wants to limit, as our pages and/or ads consistently “hidden” by Facebook users upon seeing them (due to perceived irrelevance or otherwise). These too will be penalised. In sum, don’t try too hard. If you create it, they will come… and anyway, everyone knows that inviting 1 million people to your page or quinceañera only ends in tragedy.
With all of the modifications mentioned, Facebook wants to focus on the quality of the service it provides. The aim is to allow creators to concentrate on producing better content without being as concerned about making their content as “visible” as possible. As for consumers, Facebook’s priority is to increasingly adapt content to their interests and to the times when their interests are most likely to relate to relevant upcoming events. Less earnest click-bait, more user-focused content, as it were.
What do you think about these changes? Are they likely to make the user experience more friendly?