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Facebook will change the algorithm to offer what users want

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Facebook may be reconfiguring its News Feed algorithms. After being questioned by lawmakers about the role that Facebook played in the attack on the United States Capitol, the company announced this morning that it will launch a series of News Feed rating tests that will ask users to provide feedback on the posts they usually use see, which will later be incorporated into the Facebook News Feed ranking process.

Specifically, Facebook will look to find out what content people find inspiring, what content they want to see less of (such as politics) and what other topics they are generally interested in, among other things.

This will be done through a series of global tests, one of which will involve a survey directly below the post itself that asks: “Did the post deserve your time?” in order to help show more people the posts that are most interesting and that will put themselves more at the top of the News Feed.

Facebook will change the algorithm to offer what users want

Another test will work for the Facebook news feed experience to reflect what people want to see. Today, Facebook prioritizes showing the content of friends, groups and pages that it has chosen to follow, but it has algorithmically created which posts appear in its feed, according to various signs and indications that users give on the social network.

This includes implicit and explicit signals – such as how much you get involved with that person’s (or page / group’s) content on a regular basis, as well as whether you added them as a “close friend” or “favorite”, with the indication that you want to see more about the respective contents, among other indicators.

However, just because you’re close to someone in real life, it doesn’t mean that you like what they post on Facebook. This has separated families and friends in recent years, as people discovered through social media how people they thought they really knew saw the world.4 It was a painful reckoning for some. Facebook was also unable to solve the problem.

Today, users still browse news feeds that reinforce their opinions, however problematic (and questionable) they may be. And with the growing wave of disinformation, the News Feed went from just putting users in an information bubble, to presenting a complete alternative reality for some, often filled with conspiracy theories.

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Facebook’s third test does not necessarily deal with this problem head-on, but seeks to get feedback on what users want to see as a whole. Facebook says it will start asking people if they want to see more or less posts on certain topics, such as cooking, sports, politics and more. Based on the collective feedback from users, Facebook will adjust its algorithms to show more content that people say they are interested in and less posts on topics they don’t want to see.

The policy area, specifically, has been a problem for Facebook. The social network has for years been tasked with helping to fan the flames of political discourse, polarizing and radicalizing users through its algorithms, distributing incorrect information en masse and encouraging a clickbait ecosystem.

Shortly after the attack on the Capitol, Facebook announced that it would try to restrict the political content in the News Feed to a small percentage of people in the US, Canada, Brazil and Indonesia, for a period of time during testing.

Now, the company says it will work to better understand what content is being linked to negative experiences in the News Feed, namely political content. In this case, Facebook may ask in posts with a lot of negative reactions what type of content they want to see less of. This will be done through research in certain areas, as well as through research questions, where people are invited to talk about their experience in the News Feed.

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It is not clear whether allowing users to choose their topics is the best way to resolve problems with negative posts or fakenews.

As the data is obtained in the tests, Facebook will introduce the findings to its News Feed ranking algorithms. But it is unclear to what extent it will adjust the algorithm globally rather than simply personalizing the user experience individually.

Facebook says that the tests carried out will help the algorithms learn and improve. We will see what will happen, really.

Source: Facebook

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