Facebook tweaks News Feed to favor 'personally informative' stories

Facebook's ever-changing News Feed got yet another update Thursday when the social network announced it's changing the algorithm to favor "personally informative stories."

On the heels of changes that smothered clickbait and emphasized posts from friends and family, Facebook said it's created a "new ranking signal" that will evaluate feedback from users to determine if posts are informative or not.

Here's how it works, per Facebook:

With this update, we are creating a new ranking signal to predict what is most informative to you, so those stories appear higher in your feed. First, we look at the stories that people tell us they find informative. People from our Feed Quality Program look at each story in their feed and rank it on a scale of one to five — one being “really not informative” and five being “really informative.” Generally, we’ve found people find stories informative if they are related to their interests, if they engage people in broader discussions and if they contain news about the world around them. That could be anything from recipes, to local issues, to global current events. The stories people rate as informative and really informative help create a new prediction about how informative we think you’ll find each story.

The algorithm will weigh that signal against information about an individual user's preferences — their relationship with the person or publisher, for example, or what they choose to click on — to help determine the ranking of posts.

This latest tweak referenced an earlier update, called "News Feed Values," that laid out the kind of online environment Facebook wants to cultivate. One of those values was informativeness, the idea that people should encounter meaningful stories in their Facebook feed.

Today's update is neither good news nor bad news for publishers — at the end of its note, Facebook said referral traffic to pages would increase or decrease only slightly on a case-by-case basis.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.


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