Facebook is introducing a new way for articles to get prioritized in the News Feed, with focus on news sources, plus re-surfacing stories when a friend comments.
Facebook is well aware that a big part of what users post on their timelines are either cat photos, meme photos or something similarly trivial. However, according to the company’s surveys among users, most useful on one’s News Feed are relevant links to news that originate from reputable sources.
This means that the latest cat photo, Miley Cyrus meme or other update might be good for fun, but not really what people are looking for.
In a blog post on Facebook Newsroom, engineering manager Varum Kacholia and software engineer Minwen Ji explain some changes made to the News Feed intended to drive better readership to content that matters. “Why are we doing this? Our surveys show that on average people prefer links to high quality articles about current events, their favorite sports team or shared interests, to the latest meme,” the engineers wrote.
In an upcoming update, Facebook will improve its algorithms to distinguish between the high-quality content from the trivial ones — weeding out the chafe, so to speak. This update is particularly suited to mobile devices, with their limited screen real estate.
According to the engineering team, mobile users will also see older updates re-surface when a friend comments on these, which will help improve engagement. “After people read a story, they are unlikely to go back and find that story again to see what their friends were saying about it,” the engineers wrote. “With this update stories will occasionally resurface that have new comments from friends.”
Another new feature will include at least three related updates at the bottom of each News Feed item, which can help with content discovery.
Going beyond mobile devices and discovery, this might have some serious implication to a recently popular business model that involves viral content. Viral sites like Viral Nova, Upworthy and BuzzFeed all rely on viral content shared on Facebook (and other social networks like Twitter) for their traffic. Much of these sites’ content involve photos, videos or memes sourced from other websites. With Facebook now focusing on relevant content from certain sites, this update might soon enough reduce the relevance of meme sites, thereby obliterating their business model.
Will meme sites eventually fail due to a change in Facebook’s way of prioritizing content on the News Feed?
Source: Facebook Newsroom