Besides Likes, Shares and Comments, Facebook now includes “time spent by user on any story” as one of the factor for its News Feed ranking.

One of the leading social networking sites, Facebook considers the number of Likes, Shares and Comments as its basic factors to display content in the News Feed of their users. The major aim of Facebook is to show relevant content which is of interest to their users.

However, a recent survey carried out by Facebook, as a part of improvement on News Feed indicated that there are certain content which users prefer to read though they might not either click a Like or Share and also may not enter any comment. For example, certain current affairs or serious natural calamities are the news which readers do read; however they might not say anything which definitely does not mean that users do not care about it.

Redesigning of News Feed by Facebook:

Hence, on Friday, Facebook announced that going forward besides the factors such as ‘like’, ‘share’, ‘comment’ they will also consider one more factor ‘time spent by user on any story in their News Feed‘ for updating the News Feed ranking, regardless of whether user actively interacted with it or not.

Going forward, whenever user scroll pasts some content without stopping for long would signal the Facebook algorithms that user does not care for such content.

On the other hand, suppose user spends some time on a post for a bit longer time, then this time will be registered by Facebook and it will consider that such types of post are what users care for and interests them. These posts could be anything from studying some picture or going through some comment thread. This indirectly indicates that the stories which users read or watch will be prioritized and displayed on the top.

Thus, some of the posts which user used to scroll past quickly, such as some advertisements, laughing material or some baby photographs, will now not be displayed on top as it used to be earlier; thanks to Facebook’s algorithm which will take the hint that this material is not relevant to the user.

Facebook software engineers, Ansha Yu and Sami Tas wrote in their blog that: “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”.

The engineering team also added: “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”.

Interestingly, till now the News Feed used to take into consideration those actions which required some conscious effort from the user such as liking or sharing or entering some comment in any post. It was not passive. However, introduction of this new factor will make the algorithm to consider more of user’s Passive actions than the conscious ones.

Hence, when Facebook shifts into this “passive behavior analysis” of the user, it will slowly understand what their users actually care about and pull up the relevant story in their News Feed.  This could be a bit terrifying because Facebook will now know more about the interests of their users than the users themselves!!

For now, there will not be any immediate dramatic changes to the News Feed pop ups. The redesigning will take some time before Facebook actually starts giving too much weightage to this new factor. Facebook will have to take into considerations many facts such as a user could just walk away from their computer while camping on some post in their News Feed which is actually of no interest to the user. There could be one more scenario when a user is simply scrolling through some post which is not of much interest to the user; however to simply spend their time they are halting on that particular post.

It seems the News Feed will also take into consideration user’s speed of Internet connection so as to avoid misinterpreting user to like some content which is actually due slow internet.

Facebook says it has already started rolling out its algorithm tweak and will continue to do so in the coming weeks as well. Facebook further also mentions “do not expect Pages to see significant changes in distribution as a result of this update”.

This redesigning of News Feed by Facebook seems to be quite fascinating for now. A word of caution to users, if you have been seeing some such content which you do not want your friends to know about it….then be careful of what content you are halting on going forward. This redesigning has its pros and cons.

Readers, do include your view regarding this redesigning of News Feed by Facebook, in the below comments section.

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