Facebook News Feed is about to change, and media companies are not pleased. In a blog post titled “News Feed FYI: Balancing Content from Friends and Pages,” Facebook announced updates that aim to show users more posts (status updates, photos, videos) from friends than from pages they like and follow.
On the plus side for content providers, Facebook has abandoned the previous policy that users cannot see two (or more) posts from the same page in a row. The new feature is similar to the "suggested content" some news organizations provide to keep readers on their site.
But in addition, Facebook’s algorithm (the calculations that determine what appears on your News Feed) will favor a user’s friends. Therefore, content that a friend directly posts on his or her own profile page or on a mutual friend's is more likely to show up on your News Feed. Facebook users also are less likely to see content posted on an organization's page that a friend then chooses to like or comment on.
With these changes, it is as if Facebook is returning to its original intent to connect friends. Since CEO and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg launched “The Facebook” from his dorm room at Harvard in 2004, the social network has expanded as a lucrative method for businesses and news organizations to communicate and share content with users. Publishers post content with links and can identify their reach, as in how many of Facebook’s users are expected to see the post. Several factors go into the algorithm that controls how many of Facebook’s 1.4 billion users see the post. These include how many users comment or "like" the page or even whether the content is posted by a link, includes a short link or has associated photos.
Facebook has longed tweaked its algorithm and worked with news organizations on the matter. Lately Facebook has been talking with publishers, including the New York Times and BuzzFeed, to publish their content directly on the site. This would go beyond the current ability to upload videos, photos and text posts, but the company has declined to disclose details on the format for such partnerships.
Facebook’s update announcement comes on a day of major algorithm changes for several big tech companies. Earlier Tuesday, Twitter announced that it tests its algorithm change to limit the reach of tweets the site identifies as violent under its new policy. Google introduced a change that reduces search rankings of sites that are not mobile-friendly.