Facebook News Feed: Friends and Family First, Core Values

Friends and family come first in Facebook’s News Feed, as the social network detailed the latest tweak to its algorithm and detailed the values that guide that algorithm.

Friends and family come first in Facebook’s News Feed, as the social network detailed the latest tweak to its algorithm and detailed the values that guide that algorithm.

Engineering director Lars Backstrom announced the algorithm update in a Newsroom post, saying that posts from friends will be ranked higher in News Feed than posts from pages. He wrote:

Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to—starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook. That’s why today, we’re announcing an upcoming change to News Feed ranking to help make sure you don’t miss stories from your friends.

We’ve heard from our community that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about. For people with many connections, this is particularly important, as there are a lot of stories for them to see each day. So we are updating News Feed over the coming weeks so that the things posted by the friends you care about are higher up in your News Feed.

As for the change’s impact on pages, Backstrom wrote:

Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some pages. The specific impact on your page’s distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience. For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through page posts. We encourage pages to post things that their audiences are likely to share with their friends.

In a separate Newsroom post, vice president of product management for News Feed Adam Mosseri explained the core values that help guide adjustments to the News Feed algorithm.

Mosseri stressed that friends and family remain the top priority, and he added that News Feed should inform and entertain, not favor specific sources or ideas and remain authentic and customizable by its users.

Highlights from Mosseri’s post follow:

People expect the stories in their feed to be meaningful to them—and we have learned over time that people value stories that they consider informative. Something that one person finds informative or interesting may be different from what another person finds informative or interesting—this could be a post about a current event, a story about your favorite celebrity, a piece of local news or a recipe. We’re always working to better understand what is interesting and informative to you personally, so those stories appear higher up in your feed.

We’ve also found that people enjoy their feeds as a source of entertainment. For some people, that’s following a celebrity or athlete; for others it’s watching Live videos and sharing funny photos with their friends. We work hard to try to understand and predict what posts on Facebook you find entertaining to make sure you don’t miss out on those.

We don’t favor specific kinds of sources—or ideas. Our aim is to deliver the types of stories we’ve gotten feedback that an individual person most wants to see. We do this not only because we believe it’s the right thing but also because it’s good for our business. When people see content they are interested in, they are more likely to spend time on News Feed and enjoy their experience.

It’s important to note that while we welcome a multitude of viewpoints, we also believe strongly that people should feel—and be—safe when they use Facebook, and we therefore have community standards that define the behavior that we think is out-of-bounds on the platform. We think it’s possible to be inclusive without making Facebook a place where people are subjected to attacks, hate or other harmful behavior.

The strength of our community depends on authentic communication. The feedback we’ve gotten tells us that authentic stories are the ones that resonate most. That’s why we work hard to understand what type of stories and posts people consider genuine so we can show more of them in News Feed. And we work to understand what kinds of stories people find misleading, sensational and spammy to make sure people see those less.

Ultimately, you know what’s most meaningful to you—and that’s why we’ve developed controls so you can customize what you see. Features such as “unfollow,” “hide” and “see first” help you design your own experience, and when you use them, we take your actions as feedback to help us better understand what content is most important to you. For example, if you hide a story from someone, that signals that you’re less interested in hearing from that person in the future. As News Feed evolves, we’ll continue building easy-to-use and powerful tools to give you the most personalized experience.

We view our work as only 1 percent finished — and are dedicated to improving along the way. As we look for ways to get better, we will continue soliciting feedback. We will be as open as we can — providing explanations in News Feed FYI wherever possible and looking for opportunities to share how we work.

Readers: What are your thoughts on Facebook’s latest News Feed algorithm change?

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