You know how Facebook shows you lots of old stuff in your News Feed you haven’t cared about for two days? That may be about to change.
The monolithic social network said Thursday that it’s shifting around its mysterious News Feed algorithm to show people fewer old posts in favor of more “timely” posts, based on a handful of new factors like when a posts got clicks and likes (as opposed to just how many it got) — and whether a given story is “trending.”
“There are also times when a post that is a day or two old may not be relevant to you anymore,” Facebook said in its announcement. “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.”
It’s hard to tell what predicated the change. Perhaps it was a handful of News Feed–focused stories recently, or the fair amount of criticism the company got over not surfacing much content about Ferguson for a lot of people (nobody wants to “Like” a story about a person being killed, so those posts will do worse), or something else altogether.
Up to now, Facebook’s News Feed generally surfaced stories from people’s networks that were getting the most engagement. More Likes, comments and clicks on a given post means that post is more likely to spill into your feed. But it’s an ever-changing beast that at times seems more art than science, and its inner workings remain among Facebook’s most closely guarded secrets.
So what does this change actually mean for users? For the most part, this will likely result in fewer posts from two days ago appearing in your News Feed, and more posts from current news topics. Which for a lot of people is a great change!
But beyond that, who knows, really. Facebook will go into broad terms about how it decides what goes into your News Feed, but the fact is, no matter how many explainers Facebook writes about its News Feed, we commoners will simply never really know.
The secrets are too complex and too valuable to Facebook for the company to offer much insight beyond the basics.
Whatever. Twitter is the new Facebook anyway.