“We’ve heard from our community that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about,” Lars Backstrom, the company’s engineering director said in a blog post.
Backstrom said the firm will make “things posted by the friends you care about” appear higher up in the feed.
As well as the change, which is said to be “upcoming”, Facebook has also explained the “values” that lie behind the News Feed.
In a separate blog post Adam Mosseri, the vice president of News Feed’s product management, said the algorithms are changing so people don’t miss things that may be important to them. Friends and family are the most crucial thing, the VP said.
He said Facebook’s research has shown people have two other “strong exceptions” when they open their accounts: being informed and entertained.
Mosseri also said “authentic stories” are the ones that “resonate most” with the 1.65 billion users of the network; and that features to hide or not see posts allow people to customise their feeds.
However, the changes are highly likely to affect publishers who use Facebook to promote their work.
For publishers, the algorithmic change will impact the amount of traffic and views that come to their page. Backstrom says that “reach and referral traffic” may decline for some Pages. However, this will depend on each page.
“If a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts,” the engineer said.
The New York Times reports newer Facebook features such as Instant Articles and its Live streaming platform will also be affected by the algorithmic changes.
The changes come in the wake of Facebook being criticised for how its Trending side-bar works. Reports in March claimed human editors – it was previously believed algorithms picked the top stories – are involved in the selection of the most prominent stories.
After an internal Facebook investigation at the time, the company said it hadn’t found any evidence of bias in the story selection but changed its policies.
Amid the most recent updates, Facebook said: “We are not in the business of picking which issues the world should read about. We are in the business of connecting people and ideas — and matching people with the stories they find most meaningful.”
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