Facebook is continually updating its Newsfeed algorithm and what users see, from testing auto-play ads to reducing clickbait. Now, the social media behemoth is at it again, this time giving pages that load faster higher priority in your feed and offering fact-checked articles when false news articles are posted.
The changes come as Facebook’s latest attempt to not only improve the content users see when they log-on, but make it faster.
Fast Loading, More Prominence
Facebook announced in a blog post today that it will begin showing stories that link to faster loading webpages.
“We’ve heard from people that it’s frustrating to click on a link that leads to a slow-loading webpage,” Facebook engineers Jiaya Wen and Shengbo Guo wrote, noting that the company’s research shows that if users have to wait too long for a page to load, they’ll abandon it.
If this occurs, the user could abandon Facebook altogether in search of the desired news. That means users won’t spend as much time on the platform.
To fix this, and keep people on Facebook, the company says it will begin updating News Feed to give priority — or higher placement — to stories that will load quickly on mobile.
In order to figure out how quickly a page will load, Facebook says it will take into account estimated land time and factors such as a user’s current network connection and the general speed of the corresponding webpage.
Facebook says the change will roll out gradually over the coming months. While the company anticipates that Pages won’t see a significant change in their distribution in News Feed, those that are particularly slow could see decreased traffic referral.
So what does this mean for users? Tech Crunch suggests that the change might result in users seeing more posts from companies that use Facebook’s Instant Article program.
Instant Articles is Facebook’s mobile publishing format that enables news publishers to distribute articles to Facebook’s app that load and display as much as 10 times faster than the standard mobile web. Facebook does not address Instant Articles in its blog post.
Crackdown on Fake News
In other Facebook News Feed news, the company is expanding its efforts to cut back on the sharing of inaccurate or false news.
Facebook said in an update today that it is expanding its “Related Articles” feature to more users.
Facebook said it will start using updated machine learning to detect more potential hoaxes and send those articles to third-party fact checkers to determine if the content is false or misleading.
The system will then provide users with previously fact-checked articles when they share or click on a potentially fake story.
Here’s how it works: When someone posts an article that is believed to be false, Facebook will provide a list of fact-checked “related” articles on the same subject directly below the originally shared post.
“Since starting this test, we’ve heard that Related Articles helps give people more perspectives and additional information, and helps them determine whether the news they are reading is misleading or false,” the company said of expanding the service, which began in April.
“We will continue testing updates to Related Articles and other ongoing News Feed efforts to show less false news on Facebook and provide people context if they see false news,” the company says.