Facebook to Highlight Articles You Actually Want to Read


Another day, another Facebook News Feed algorithm change. The social network on Thursday promised to start presenting "more articles you actually want to spend time viewing."

Facebook is trying to better understand what people are most excited to see—even if they don't click, like, or comment on every post. "We have learned that the actions people take on Facebook—liking, clicking, commenting, or sharing a post—don't always tell us the whole story of what is most meaningful to them," software engineer Moshe Blank and research scientist Jie Xu wrote in a blog post.

Articles about serious current events or sad news from a friend, for example, may not garner much interaction, but are still relevant to many people.

"We're learning that the time people choose to spend reading or watching content they clicked on from News Feed is an important signal that the story was interesting to them," Blank and Xu wrote.

As a result, Facebook will take into consideration time spent on an article, page, or video when deciding what information to present on your News Feed. "We will not be counting loading time towards this — we will be taking into account time spent reading and watching once the content has fully loaded. We will also be looking at the time spent within a threshold so as not to accidentally treat longer articles preferentially," according to Facebook.

"With this change, we can better understand which articles might be interesting to you based on how long you and others read them, so you'll be more likely to see stories you're interested in reading."

The social network will also switch things up so you don't see too much from one particular publisher. 

These adjustments are rolling out now. If you run a Facebook Page, the company said "We anticipate that most Pages won't see any significant changes," though its assurances were rather vague. "Some Pages might see a small increase in referral traffic, and some Pages might see minor decreases."

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