Facebook’s Page Discovery “Browser” Is Live Once Again

Facebook has brought its Page discovery system “Page Browser” back online. The tool, which helps users find Pages to Like, debuted earlier this month but was quickly removed after going live, for unclear reasons. It also appears to work the same as before.

Users can navigate to Page Browser via a link at the bottom of the Likes and Interests section of their profile, or by visiting the URL http://www.facebook.com/pages/browser.php. The tool is currently available to all logged in Facebook users. It could help spur Page growth, but may disproportionately aid Pages which already have large numbers of Likes.

Page Browser seems to show users Pages based on which are popular in their country, amongst those in similar demographics, amongst one’s friends, and are similar to Pages a user has already Liked. Users can mouse over a Page’s name to see its hover card complete with Like count and Page category, or mouse over the icon itself to see a Like button for that Page. Users can view a selection of all Pages or use category buttons to narrow the selection to only games, celebrities or other types of Pages. A country drop-down menu lets users weight the display to Pages popular in that nation. The right sidebar contains a list of your 25 friends who have the most Likes in common with you.

By using a profile with no Likes or friends to access Page Browser, the algorithm determining which Pages to display could only rely on IP address geolocation and required information like gender and age. A 25 year old American male will see Pages such as Barack Obama, ESPN, Lil Wayne and South Park. A 45 year old American female will see Pages including Maya Angelou, Dancing With The Stars, The Animal Rescue Site, and also Barack Obama.

Since the algorithm promotes sites which have many Likes, whether amongst your country, demographic, or friends, Pages with few Likes are less often surfaced in Page Browser. This could help Pages which are already popular stay that way, while increasing the gap between them and less popular Pages. Facebook has not disclosed any specifics about exactly how the algorithm works, but incorporating factors such as Likes per post / total Likes for the Page, Facebook could use the Page Browser to aid discovery of the best Pages, not just the biggest.

[Thanks to Eti Suruzon for the tip]

Update: Facebook’s blog has now published a post formally naming the product “Page Browser”. Facebook’s Ben Blumenfeld explains that the tool is designed to “help people more easily express shared interests and keep updated about those interests”, and that the idea came from him browsing movies to rent online.