Facebook’s Aggregated Topics Don’t Look Promising

News Feed posts will be grouped by subject

Facebook has made some new changes to the News Feed. But it’s not the unfiltered feed that was hinted at last week. Instead, Facebook has rolled out Aggregated Topic clusters that group News Feed stories by subject—regardless of how that subject is used.

Now, when several of your Facebook friends all post something related to the same subject, those posts will all be grouped together with other posts that mention that subject and tags to that subject’s Fan Page.

Facebook said that it will use natural language processing to match words in posts to the relevant brand pages. But the company told Inside Facebook that its natural language processing won’t be able to detect sentiment, how a Page’s name is being used, or whether the mentioned Page was actually the focus of the update—meaning that Facebook could include posts trashing a brand or updates where that brand isn’t even relevant.

“While it seems obvious that Facebook is doing this to increase in engagement on Fan Pages, it doesn’t seem to add very much value to users and is a toss for brands,” writes TechCrunch’s Alexa Tsotsis.

She added that she saw very few clusters on the day that the Aggregated Topics supposedly launched (and as of this morning, I’m also not seeing any in my News Feed, either)—meaning that either the feature hasn’t rolled out universally or Facebook has realized its potential for error and is scaling back.