Facebook unveils changes to news feeds that will factor in trending topics

19 Sep 2014

Facebook has announced plans to change the way the site’s news feeds work in a move engineers say will ensure users “don’t miss the stories that are important to them”.

A Facebook news feed is a constantly updating list of stories that includes status updates, photos, videos and other posts from friends, pages and groups. This list is non-linear and prioritises stories by utilising information derived from how often a user interacts with particular pages.

With the proposed changes, the social network will now factor in topics that are trending and the rate at which people are ‘liking’ or commenting on a post.

“We’ve heard feedback that there are some instances where a post from a friend or a page you are connected to is only interesting at a specific moment, for example, when you are both watching the same sports game, or talking about the season premiere of a popular TV show,” wrote Facebook software engineer Erich Owens and engineering manager David Vickrey in a statement.

“There are also times when a post that is a day or two old may not be relevant to you anymore. Our latest update to news feed ranking looks at two new factors to determine if a story is more important in the moment than other types of updates.”

The total number of ‘likes’ a post has received is already factored in when determining how high up it appears on news feed. With these changes, the site will also calculate when users are interacting with a post.

Facebook said early tests in the factoring in of trending topics has led to a more than 6pc increase in people engaging with these stories. The company also revealed these changes will be rolled out gradually.

Facebook image via Shutterstock

Dean Van Nguyen was a contributor to Silicon Republic