Facebook to share news feed algorithm details

Posted on April 3, 2019

 

According to reports from the BBC, social networking site Facebook has stated that it will be launching a new feature that will explain how the company’s algorithms decide which posts and stories to display in a user’s news feed.

The new feature will take the form of a button that will pose the question “Why am I seeing this post?” to curious users, and upon activating the feature, it will indicate to the user what activities on the site prompted the site’s algorithms to show a particular post.

This is the first Facebook has given its users the opportunity to access this information directly within the app and on the desktop version of the site.

In the past, along with the likes of rival network Twitter and Google-owned video site YouTube, Facebook has been criticised for using these algorithms to recommend various types of content to its users without explaining how it came to presenting that particular post.

The social site explained in a blog post that the new feature has already become available to some UK users as of March 31st, with the feature being fully rolled out by May 2nd.

The button will be located in the dropdown menu appearing at in the top right corner of each individual post within the news feed, with the menu being represented with the ‘three dots’ or ellipsis symbol.

The tool itself will offer users insights, including informing users that they have been interacting with posts containing photos more than any other type of media.

Furthermore, Facebook has announced that it will also be adding more detailed information to the advertising version of this tool, “Why am I seeing this ad?”, which has appeared in the dropdown menu alongside adverts on the site since 2014. Facebook will now let its users know whether details on their profiles matched details found on the advertiser’s database.

This feature already revealed to users whether some of their online activity, such as the location where they connected to the site, was being used by advertisers to target specific ads at them.

Facebook has said that these updates form part of the company’s ongoing commitment to giving its users more control and context across the site. It has been under intense scrutiny in the past year or so after a number of privacy scandals, data breaches and fake news allegations.

Alan Littler

Account Executive at Engage Web
Drawing from a broad pool of experience that ranges from university studies in English Language to his work as a medical receptionist in a busy GP practice, Alan fits right at home as Engage Web’s Account Executive.

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