Facebook’s news feed seems like the least static system in social networking — it can be difficult to figure out what’s in and what’s out. Memes are out and celebrities are in; then Upworthy is out and live-posting about a TV show is the new thing to bubble to the top. Now, Facebook is biasing the feed towards news.
“We’ve heard feedback that there are some instances where a post from a friend or a Page you are connected to is only interesting at a specific moment, for example when you are both watching the same sports game, or talking about the season premiere of a popular TV show,” Facebook staff wrote in a statement.
Facebook came under fire recently for burying the news about Ferguson. The story might have appeared buried, but the truth is that the Facebook news feed isn’t good at surfacing news above other, more viral stories, like the ice bucket challenge which was at its peak during the unrest in Ferguson.
In response to the criticism, the news feed will soon “show people stories about things that are trending as soon as they occur, so you can immediately know what your friends or favorite Pages are saying about the stories of the day,” according to the statement. The statement also notes that tests resulted in a six percent increase in post engagement.
Changing the feed again to surface news is an indication that tweaking the algorithm is the only tool for changing the way users interact with content. The Facebook experience keeps shifting and developers keep trying to change the way the core system operates. The result is a Frankenstein’s monster of a news feed — cobbled together with too many purposes, doing none of them really well.
Facebook is trying to create other products and serve different needs, but even Mark Zuckerberg admits, “Most of these new things that we’re doing aren’t going to move any needles in our business for a very long time.”