Facebook is updating its news feed to better rank posts by adding new signals to rank content and a new way to predict and rank real-time posts, the company said in a blog post. It mentions that the new changes might cause some pages to gain or lose viewership, but adds that the changes will be minor.
The new update will add ‘universal signals’ to determine if a post is authentic by categorizing pages based on if they spam or not, or if it is trying to game the news feed like asking for likes, comments or shares, etc. It will then use these sample posts to ‘train’ the newsfeed to identify if other posts from other pages are likely to be authentic. Additionally, if a Page’s posts are being hidden by people it’s displayed to, then the company might mark the post as unauthentic, with more authentic posts showing up higher in a user’s news feed.
Real-time signals determine the relevance of the post, such as when a friend comments on it. Facebook has updated this algorithm as well, now ranking posts based on how much engagement it is getting in real-time. For example, if a soccer team just won a game, it might show up on the feed because people (including friends) are talking about it on Facebook.
With this, Facebook is looking to address one of the major problems facing the company – that of fake news. The first initiative will help curb posts from pages that consistently spew fake news since these posts are more likely to be hidden by users from view, while the second will help rank more relevant real-time stories up. Note that, last month Facebook had also rolled out fake news filters in partnership with independent fact-checking organizations, to warn users when sharing fake stories, and down-rank such stories. The company has previously faced flak for false stories – like the one about the Pope endorsing Donald Trump before the election which outperformed real news – and accused of adversely affecting fair elections.