Facebook News Feed to prioritise the stuff you spend most time on

13 Jun 2015

Facebook tweaks News Feed algorithms to prioritise content you spend the longest time reading

You know all those baby, graduation and food pics you tend to scroll past on Facebook? Well, there’s a cure for that. Facebook is now prioritising the time you spend on stories to determine what appears more prominently in your News Feed.

Until now posts would have appeared high in your News Feed depending on how much your friends liked, commented on or shared content.

But now – as Facebook aims to become the front-page news site of the entire web – the length of time you spend on individual stories is now a factor.

“When talking to people about the way they use their News Feed, we’ve found that it’s not as simple as just measuring the number of seconds you spend on each story to understand if that piece of content resonated with you,” Facebook software engineers Ansha Yu and Sami Tas explained.

“Some people may spend ten seconds on a story because they really enjoy it, while others may spend ten seconds on a story because they have a slow internet connection. We’ve discovered that if people spend significantly more time on a particular story in News Feed than the majority of other stories they look at, this is a good sign that content was relevant to them.”

No significant changes

Facebook says it has begun rolling out the new algorithm and will continue to do so over the coming weeks.

The Facebook engineers added that they do not expect Pages to see significant changes in distribution as a result of the update.

“For example, you may scroll quickly through your News Feed and like a photo of your friend’s graduation, followed by sharing a funny post from your sister. You keep scrolling and happen upon a post your cousin shared detailing everything she did and saw on her recent trip.

“Her post even includes a photo. You spend time reading her post and the interesting discussion about the best places to eat that had broken out in the comments on this post, but you don’t feel inclined to like or comment on it yourself. Based on the fact that you didn’t scroll straight past this post and it was on the screen for more time than other posts that were in your News Feed, we infer that it was something you found interesting and we may start to surface more posts like that higher up in your News Feed in the future.”

Facebook image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years