Facebook’s Constant News Feed Changes Are No Surprise. Here’s Why.

Published on May 20, 2019

Facebook has gone back to the drawing table with News Feed changes again.

The tech giant announced last Thursday that it would be using surveys and several other data touchpoints to show users content in their News Feed that was more personalized and relevant to them.

These changes come fresh off the heels of Facebook’s F8 conference, where it was announced that Facebook would be moving away from newsfeed and more towards groups and events as the core part of the user experience.

The News Feed will have two prominent ranking updates: prioritizing the friends a user wants to hear from the most, and links that a user may find worthwhile.

In order to better inform their data, Facebook has begun using surveys that ask users to list people that they’re closest to. Facebook gave more detail in an official statement:

“We look at the patterns that emerge from the results, some of which include being tagged in the same photos, continuously reacting and commenting on the same posts and checking-in at the same places — and then use these patterns to inform our algorithm. This direct feedback helps us better predict which friends people may want to hear from most.”

Why It Matters

This isn’t the first announcement of its kind this year from Facebook. Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it would be changing ranking factors for video content. These updates took into account video and view duration, viewer loyalty, and original content as ranking factors.

While Facebook has announced News Feed changes in recent years, the truth is that the algorithm for News Feed is in a state of flux. Facebook has made numerous algorithm updates to News Feed in recent years to address feedback in addition to criticism about Facebook’s influence in elections and lack of AI moderation. Updates have ranged from diminishing rankings for links to low-quality sites, “engagement bait” posts that ask users to like and share, prioritizing posts with many reactions as opposed to just likes, and more.

Marketers may recognize these constant updates as parallel to updates on Search Engine Optimization from Google for its search engine. Google announces frequent algorithm updates regarding ranking factors that determine what sites rank best in their search engine. These updates are reminiscent of Facebook’s, with quality content ranking highest in the search engine.

If Google is making frequent updates to its algorithm to keep up with the evolution of the internet and web content, it’s no surprise that Facebook would do the same. The need to ensure that good content gets in front of users is paramount for Facebook as it struggles to grapple with the criticism of users, politicians, and news outlets alike for its involvement in several content related scandals in recent years.

More frequent News Feed algorithmic changes are not the only thing users can expect. Behind the scenes, AI is hard at work ensuring that graphic content and violence are squashed before they even reach users in their News Feeds. This coupled with algorithm changes are what Facebook hopes will show users their commitment to privacy and remaining a platform that provides users with updates from friends and family.

While this is not the first News Feed update from Facebook this year, don’t expect it to be the last.

Ayse is a Columnist at Grit Daily. She is a digital-marketing professional with experience in paid media advertising, SEO, writing and analytics. She's worked with numerous brands in the digital space, honing her digital chops at places like Edelman, McGraw Hill Education, Abbott, and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. In her spare time she enjoys hikes with her dog Belle and wondering when the newest season of Stranger Things will premiere on Netflix.

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