Social media giant Facebook has announced on Friday that it is going to introduce a new algorithm for deciding what will appear in its user’s news feed which is going to go past the traditional most liked, most shared and most commented structure into a slightly harder quantifiable measurement – the time a user spends reading a certain post.
The reason for this apparently is a recent survey which indicates the fact that some user might be interested in certain types of content without liking, sharing or commenting on it at all. For example, there are a lot of users who refrain from liking tragic news such as natural calamities or celebrity deaths due to the weird juxtaposition the gesture puts them into, even though they are actually interested in reading about it.
Another example would be for example current news posts – which garner thousands of likes anyway if they come from more popular media outlets – which might interest the user even if he doesn’t feel the need to like, share or comment on them. Last but not least, some user might not want to interact with content they are interested in simply because they might not want to be publicly linked to it in any way.
The new Facebook algorithm supposedly registers when a user spends more than usual viewing a post, marking it as something he is interested in it. Similarly, posts over which he rapidly scrolls by will be marked as uninteresting content and less promoted in his news feed. So if you spend a lot of time looking at pictures of animals but just scroll by rapidly whenever your friend is posting new photos of his newborn baby, then you’ll see former rank higher in your news feed and the latter pushed towards the bottom.
However, there is no information on how Facebook is going to handle the data collected this way. Bear in mind the fact that this is passive user information they are collecting – which sounds a bit intrusive both in theory and practice. While this might be the gateway for more relevant content, it should be doubled by erasing a user’s record of passive behavior on the site immediately after it is used for the algorithm’s functions; however, knowing Facebook, it’s not excluded that such information might be handed out to marketing companies for a more detailed customer profiling.
Image Source: Mashable