Facebook’s Latest News Feed Algorithm Tweak Is About Authenticity, Timing

The social network will incorporate new signals to better identify and rank authentic content

The newest tweak to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, revealed Tuesday, strives for timeliness and accuracy.

The social network announced in a Newsroom post that it will incorporate new signals to better identify and rank authentic content—another shot at fake news—as well as a new way to predict and rank when posts might be more relevant to users.

These changes come just five days after the algorithm was adjusted to give more weight to what percentage of a video is being watched by users.

Research scientists Akos Lada and James Li and engineering manager Shilin Ding described Facebook’s efforts to identify authentic content for News Feed:

With this update, we’re adding new universal signals to determine whether a post might be authentic. To do this, we categorized pages to identify whether or not they were posting spam or trying to game News Feed by doing things like asking for likes, comments or shares. We then used posts from these pages to train a model that continuously identifies whether posts from other pages are likely to be authentic. For example, if page posts are often being hidden by people reading them, that’s a signal that it might not be authentic.

If a post is likely to be authentic based on the new signals we look at, it might show up higher in your feed.

As for the timing aspect, they wrote:

With today’s update, we will now take into account how signals change in real-time. So now if there is a lot of engagement from many people on Facebook about a topic, or if a post from a page is getting a lot of engagement, we can understand in real-time that the topic or page post might be temporarily more important to you, so we should show that content higher in your feed.

For example, if your favorite soccer team just won a game, we might show you posts about the game higher up in News Feed because people are talking about it more broadly on Facebook.

Lada, Li and Ding expect minimal impact for pages’ distribution, saying that some may see small upticks in referral traffic or outbound clicks, while others may see minor slippages.

Readers: What are your thoughts on the latest changes to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm?

Image courtesy of hocus-focus/iStock.

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.