TAOI: Changes to Facebook’s Newsfeed

The architecture of information:

Facebook is constantly tweaking the algorithms they use to select which items appear on your newsfeed. In a recent blog post, the company announced upcoming tweaks that will have an important impact on the structure of the environment:

Today we use signals like how many people react to, comment on or share posts to determine how high they appear in News Feed.

With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.

We will also prioritize posts from friends and family over public content, consistent with our News Feed values.

This is a big deal, not just for users but also for commercial entities using Facebook as a platform. The way I read this post, these commercial posts will be de-prioritized in favor of posts from friends and family. As a Facebook user, I’m excited about this, but I can see how this is going to hurt many businesses.

In the near-term, Facebook itself may be one of the businesses hurt by the change. Mark Zuckerberg has said he expects some of the company’s engagement metrics to go down as a result. (Read: Facebook’s advertising business may suffer.) The tradeoff, according to Zuckerberg, is that time spent in Facebook will be more valuable for its users.

I’ve been critical of Facebook in the past because of the way it monetizes its users’ attention. This change sounds like a responsible step towards an information environment that is more respectful of its users’ needs.

Via The Verge