Our goal with News Feed is always to show each individual the most relevant blend of stories that maximizes engagement and interest.
There have been recent claims suggesting that our News Feed algorithm suppresses organic distribution of posts in favor of paid posts in order to increase our revenue. This is not true. We want to clear up any misconceptions by explaining how the News Feed algorithm works.
First, in aggregate, engagement – likes, comments, shares – has gone up for most people who have turned the Follow feature on. In fact, overall engagement on posts from people with followers has gone up 34% year over year.
Second, a few data points should not be taken as representative of what actually is happening overall. There are numerous factors that may affect distribution, including quality and number of posts.
News Feed shows the most relevant stories from your friends, people you follow and Pages you are connected to. In fact, the News Feed algorithm is separate from the advertising algorithm in that we don't replace the most engaging posts in News Feed with sponsored ones.Some other points for context:
The argument here is based on a few anecdotes of one post from one year to a totally different post from another year.
- This is an apples-to-oranges comparison; you can’t compare engagement rates on two different posts year over year.
These anecdotes are taken as representative of what is happening overall.
- In fact, the opposite is happening overall – engagement has gone up 34% on posts from people who have more than 10,000 followers.
In the fall we made a quality adjustment to the News Feed algorithm to reduce negative feedback on stories from people. This meant that some Pages saw a drop in reach on their less engaging posts. Overall, Pages saw no impact to their median reach. In fact, data show that people engaged with more content in News Feed as the quality of the content they saw improved.
For early adopters of Follow, we do see instances where their follower numbers have gone up but their engagement has gone down from a year ago.
- When we first launched Follow, the press coverage combined with our marketing efforts drove large adoption. A lot of users started following public figures who had turned on Follow.
- Over time, some of those users engaged less with those figures, and so we started showing fewer stories from those figures to users who didn't engage as much with their stories.
- The News Feed changes we made in the fall to focus on higher quality stories may have also decreased the distribution for less engaging stories from public figures.
In the past six months, however, we have introduced changes to solve the above instance – the goal being to promote more content from public figures. These include organic units in NF such as "most shared on <publisher>," "most shared about <topic>," and redesigned feed stories for link shares that feature larger images and longer descriptions. Our index of partners has already seen a significant increase in traffic (35%) due to the introduction of these units.
We are constantly working to improve people’s experience with News Feed, and changes like the above we think will surface more of the right posts to the right people.