Facebook’s News Feed is changing again to prioritize sites you actually read

Just when you were starting to get used to the way Facebook shows your News Feed, it’s time for another shake-up. This time, the social media mogul is updating the feed to highlight links to sites it thinks you’ll spend more time looking at.

The update is part of Facebook’s “Feed Quality Program,” a much bigger effort to improve everyone’s News Feed experience. Every day, the company asks a few thousand people if they like what shows up in their News Feed, and uses that survey data to adjust its algorithms.

The biggest learning from its research, Facebook says, is that the actions people take on the platform — liking, clicking, commenting or sharing a post — don’t always tells the whole story of what is most meaningful to them.

For example, even though people are less likely to interact with articles about a serious current event or sad news from a friend, that isn’t necessarily an indication that Facebook users don’t want it in their News Feed. Not everything is likeable, or couth to comment on.

The update adds to the core signals Facebook uses to rank the feed, which include how much a viewer is interested in a content’s author, how the post is performing with other users, how strong the author’s past posts were, what type of content it is and how recently is was posted.


Spending some quality time

The biggest adjustment that is being rolled out today is based on the realization that the amount of time people spend reading or watching content they clicked on is a strong indicator for what types of content they like. Presumably, that is why my Facebook News Feed is now exclusively kitten videos and TechCrunch news.

So now when you click on a mobile link to an Instant Article or open a page in its internal browser window, Facebook will calculate how much time you spend there after the content stops loading, controlled for content length. Sites and articles where people spend more time will be shown higher and more frequently in the News Feed, while those they quickly ditch will be demoted.

This helps it continue to fight clickbait and gives a boost to high-quality content people can’t look away from.

Facebook is also promoting a diversity of Pages in your News Feed. It found people got miffed when they saw a bunch of posts by a single publisher clogging their feed. Now it will try to spread the love to posts by different Pages you Like.

“With this change, we can better understand which articles might be interesting to you based on how long you and others read them, so you’ll be more likely to see stories you’re interested in reading,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

The rollout of the new News Feed started recently, and will continue over the next few weeks; it will affect both your personal Facebook feed and that of any pages you have on the platform.