Facebook to Downgrade News Site Links

John Lister's picture

Facebook says it will give more priority to posts from users' friends and families rather than content from businesses, news sites and other organizations. But the precise details of the changes remain unclear.

The change is to the news feed, which is the default view when somebody logs into Facebook. Rather than show all the posts the user's friend have made in chronological order, Facebook attempts to rank them by how important and relevant the user will find them. Facebook says this is necessary because there's too much content for most users to read through in its entirety.

It is possible to switch to a chronological feed, but Facebook appears to switch the default back to News Feed once a week, meaning third party tools are the only way to make the change permanent.

Exactly how the News Feed ranking works is something of a mystery. It's made more complicated by the fact that the news feed contains a mix of content that users have posted directly and content that has been shared by friends.

Friends & Family More Important

Facebook says it will stress three factors in its rankings. The first is to prioritize content posted by friends and family, particular ones whose content the user most often "likes". The other two factors are how informative a story is and how entertaining the user is likely to find it based on their previous activity. (Source: fb.com)

While Facebook isn't detailing how the ranking algorithm will change, it has told reporters that it will most likely mean users are less likely to see content from pages that they have liked. However, it won't have as negative an effect on such content when a user's friends have shared or commented on it. In effect, Facebook is saying a user's friends will be a key part in filtering the news that they see.

Publishers Could Take Hit

The change is likely to be controversial among publishers who rely on Facebook to bring them traffic through people clicking on links to see an article in full on the publisher's website - and of course, be exposed to advertising on that site. It's another reminder that while many sites rely heavily on Facebook for traffic, doing so can be perilous because they don't have any control over how Facebook works.

According to Facebook, the tweaks are necessary because users complained that seeing news articles and other posts by organizations was coming at the expense of seeing posts from their friends. (Source: nytimes.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Do you agree with the reported changes? Are you happy with the News Feed feature in Facebook? Should users have more control over what they see, including the option to see all content in chronological order?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I rarely ever use Facebook - and this is one of the biggest reasons for avoiding the site. There's simply too much click-bait to external "news sites" that are designed to do nothing more than herd cattle to an advertisement trap. Facebook's decision to downgrade news stories in this manner is a fantastic idea - let's hope it doesn't backfire.