Facebook tunes news feed rankings

2013-08-07 07:25
Facebook. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Facebook. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Menlo Park - Facebook's quest to be a personalised newspaper for the internet age continued on Tuesday with tweaks aimed at making sure members spy hot stories from their friends.

Changes to the leading social network's formula for figuring out which posts will be of interest included "bumping" up potentially intriguing stories that went unnoticed during prior visits to Facebook.

"It is hard for users to get back to old things; you have to scroll through things you have already seen," Facebook news feed team engineering Lars Backstrom said while discussing the latest changes.

"We wanted to make it so people weren't missing important stories that didn't make top slots but were just below the fold."

Signals weighed in the machine learning algorithm were modified to bump-up a story considered more interesting than fresher material that formerly got priority simply for being newer.

Modified

"We tweaked the model," Backstrom said, noting that about 30 000 signals are balanced in the algorithm.

"Instead of just taking the new stories, we would take all stories that were new to you, that you haven't seen, even if it isn't the freshest."

A test of the change showed that the number of stories people read in news feeds rose to 70% from 57% with "bumping", according to Facebook.

"Story Bumping is going to be a really nice tool for people if they... are sitting with a Facebook account and have run out of things to look at," said Facebook vice president of product Chris Cox. "It will bump up new stuff."

News feeds were also modified to take into account the "last actor" a member interacted with and then give that friend's posts temporary priority since they seem to be up to something interesting.

"We wanted to capture your current state of mind as you were using Facebook," Backstrom said.

"A lot of signals are long term, such as the relationship with each friend; we wanted a real time factor."

Facebook's ranking software assigns numerical scores to the roughly 1 500 stories typically eligible for delivery to a member's news feed and displays the top 300.

Ads

Powerful factors for ranking are relationships, along with how often a member comments, shares, "likes", or otherwise acts on posts of friends. Hiding posts sinks content from that person in news feed rankings.

"Our goal is to create the best personalised newspaper for each of our readers," Backstrom said.

Facebook engineers are experimenting with ways for News Feeds to better handle chronological posts, such as a friend firing off play-by-play updates from a sporting event.

Backstrom's team meets on each Tuesday to brainstorm ways to improve the Facebook news feed, with worthwhile ideas tested internally among workers or with a tiny fraction of the social network's more than one billion members.

"It starts with intuition and then that gets written into code as a feature," said Cox. "Then we look at interactions."

Ads displayed as promoted posts in news feeds are handled separately from content generated by people's friends or family members at Facebook, according to the ranking team.

"We figure out the most relevant news feed with the organic content, and then, as a newspaper or television programme might do, we create advertising slots," said Facebook product manager Will Cathcart.

Backstrom compared the job of ranking news feed posts to the challenge faced by internet search engines Google or Bing when it comes to quickly determining optimal results for queries.

"Facebook is one of the only places where you have a problem on the same scale as what Google or Bing is doing but you have to use different techniques because of the personal aspects of it," Backstrom said.

Read more on:    facebook  |  social networks
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Saturday Cape Town - 07:38 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
  • Saturday Constantia - 07:19 AM
    Road name: Rhodes Drive Both Ways
    ROAD CLOSED between Constantia Nek and Canterbury Road until 1300
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Y

The Samsung Y (Young) is tiny but powerful with Android...

From R1499.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.