Facebook, News feed, Timeline

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Facebook is now re-tweaking users timeline and News Feed to give prominence to family and friends updates. It is news like this that makes it clear that flip flopping by big tech companies on major policies decision underlines how confused they are about what they really want.

Facebook, News feed, Timeline

But it is all about the bottom line. Let’s not forget that. Ads and money are the drivers of these changes. But even so, users would want a bit more consistency from Facebook about issues like this.

It all started when Facebook introduced the algorithmic timeline feed to users News Feed. Meaning what we see first on our Facebook page is ordered according to what Facebook think is important to us. Mostly it was about making sure users are exposed to targeted ads easily.

Facebook, News feed, Timeline
Facebook News Feed

For me, it meant I hardly see the updates of some friends. It got to a point I thought some friends had de-listed me from their friends list. It turned out my friends were facing the same problems.

When the algorithm timeline was introduced, content providers were assured their posts would be given a priority by Facebook. This worked perfectly well with Instant Articles that was introduced to make it easier for publishers to post their content on Facebook.

So the combination of algorithms and instant articles actually favored some content providers. This led to a rise in the number of page views coming from Facebook. For smaller websites and blogs, this was important as it gave their sites a real boost.

But with this re-tweaking, Facebook is now going back to giving prominence to what friends and families are posting. Facebook now realized that updates from friends and families are what made Facebook unique. Not news or updates from online sources that can be found in many other websites.

Facebook, News feed, Timeline

For individuals line me, this is good news as I get to see what my friends are posting more.

Facebook titled the new development “Building a Better News Feed for You.” The news was posted by Adam Mosseri, Product Manager of News Feed:

The goal of News Feed is to show people the stories that are most relevant to them. Today, we’re announcing an update to News Feed that helps you see more posts from your friends and family. We explain this change in more detail here.

When we launched News Feed in 2006, it was hard to imagine the challenge we now face: far too much information for any one person to consume. In the decade since, more than a billion people have joined Facebook, and today they share a flood of stories every day. That’s why stories in News Feed are ranked — so that people can see what they care about first, and don’t miss important stuff from their friends. If the ranking is off, people don’t engage, and leave dissatisfied. So one of our most important jobs is getting this ranking right.”

Facebook, News Feed, Timeline
Adam Mosseri

The whole post seems like an attempt to justify a poor decision. Nobody is going to come out smelling of roses from this I am sure.

Take the case of publishers. Relegating their content to second rated would definitely leave them unhappy. Especially the small websites that rely on the back traffic from Facebook.

This is also coming at a time when the world thought the relationship between Facebook and publishers is getting stronger by the day. This growing friendship was illustrated a few weeks ago that saw Facebook spending millions of dollars to promote Facebook Live through large media outfits.

For individuals who have come to rely on their News Feed to get news from publishers, this development means they have to really scroll way down their timeline before they see articles from publishers. They are also a casualty of the new tweak.

The point I am making with all this rant is simple. Facebook should simply abolish the algorithmic timeline. Allow users to chose what they want to see on their Facebook. I don’t think ad companies mind that much how News Feed is organized.

The 1.6 billion users of Facebook would not just suddenly disappear because of a little tweak. Facebook should really learn to put users first before embarking on confusing updates like this.

Why fix something that is not broken?


image credit: independent.co.uk; sagmart,com; mondo.com