For years I’ve pondered how Facebook decides what it chooses to place on my news feed on a daily basis. It couldn’t be possible that I was seeing posts from all 1300 friends that I have racked up over the years. There’s nothing more central to Facebook, literally, than its news feed which is the main draw for many people to keep coming back to this social media platform. Although we may complain about the posts we may come across, there is definitely a level of curiosity that keeps us intrigued and coming back for more.
The question remains: How does Facebook know who I want to connect with? Why do some friends’ pictures appear but it seems that others do not and are only discovered by accident during my hours of facebook procrastination when needing to work on important Organizational Dynamics assignments?
An interesting Forbes article written by Contributor, Robert Hof, helped to shed some light on this conversation. At a F8 Developer Conference, Chris Cox, Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, opened up and explained what goes into that news feed and how they are constantly trying to improve it. Their goal is to deliver the 20 things that really matter every day to Facebook’s nearly 2 billion users.
According to Adam Mosseri, Product Managment Director for news feed, there are 3 major buckets of data that go into what you see from your friends, publishers, etc. that you’ve deicded to follow.
1. Your relationship with your friends and how you interact with them
2. Content – For example, if you tend to look at a lot of photos, Facebook will try to provide more user’s photos for you to view.
3. Activity on posts – As an example, Mosseri’s Facebook News Feed in the morning showed a picture of his cousin at the top of his page because this is someone who he interacts with often and it was also a picture due to the fact that facebook knows this user likes to look at pictures.
I had to retract my previous statement from above after reading this next comment:
“By the way, despite what you may think, every post from your friends show up in the news feed, but they may be buried far down in the feed, topped by newer posts or those the Facebook algorithm deems more relevant. The methods by which Facebook surfaces what it thinks are relevant posts have evolved over the years, and continue to evolve. Lars Bakstrom, Engineering Director for news feed, said Facebook used to look mainly at how many likes and comments a post got”.
Sometimes I feel as though I see posts from the same people on a constant basis. After reading this article, this obviously isn’t by accident and my activity is clearly being tracked by Facebook algorithms which makes perfect sense. Facebook is aware that they need to cater their platform to each user on a personal level and so by tracking user activity, they are better able to meet individual needs. As we’ve discussed in class, this article also mentioned the idea of of the Human element which the team mentioned they were partially missing. Because of this, they worked to build tools that asked people what they would want to see in their news feeds. Facebook would present two posts and ask people to decide which one they’d prefer to engage. If they got it right, great. Otherwise, they were back to the drawing board working to create new algorithms. Even more interesting, is that Facebook has built up a large set of contractors, who are essentially Facebook members who get paid to tell the company which posts they would prefer to see in their news feed. I would be delighted to take on this job!
In any event, Facebook is not as random as I might have once thought it was. Between my activity on facebook alone as well as outside of facebook, developers are working to track this data in order to personalize a user’s experience. It wasn’t just a coincidence that Raymour and Flanigan Ads started popping up on the right side of my Facebook homepage.
The full article can be found here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthof/2015/03/25/a-peek-inside-how-facebook-decides-what-goes-into-your-news-feed/