Facebook Updates Its News Feed Algorithm to Give Preference to Live Video

Social network continues to bet on real time

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In another sign that Facebook is increasingly betting on real-time video, the social network said its algorithm will now give more preference to video that is live than video that is not.

In a blog post published Tuesday, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company said people spend on average three times as much time watching Facebook Live video as they spend watching other video content. According to the company, the update is not expected to significantly affect Pages.

"Now that more and more people are watching Live videos, we are considering Live Videos as a new content type—different from normal videos—and learning how to rank them for people in News Feed," wrote Facebook product managers Vibhi Kant and Jie Xu. "As a first step, we are making a small update to News Feed so that Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live, compared to after they are no longer live."

The company has been gradually making Facebook Live available to its roughly 1.04 billion daily active users. Last summer, it began allowing celebrities to share live videos. Later, it included journalists, verified accounts and other beta users before opening it up to to all iPhone users in January. Then, last week, it added Android users to the mix.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been doing his fair share to foster the format. Last week, after a surprise appearance at Samsung's Unpacked event in Barcelona, Zuckerberg went live to tell the rest of his followers about a new partnership between the two companies. A day later, during a keynote interview at Mobile World Congress, Zuckerberg said he sees live video as a way for people to have a more authentic and intimate experience sharing about their lives.

@martyswant martin.swant@adweek.com Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.