Facebook Retools Its News Feed Algo To Show Stories You Spend Time Reading, Versus Bouncy Click Bait

Regular Facebook users have surely been annoyed over the years at the social network giant’s constant meddling with your News Feed. For those of us that like to have “Most Recent” stories appear first in our feed, Facebook always seems to find a way to override those settings and display what it thinks we want to see. Facebook is once again tweaking that algorithm to make sure that the “most relevant stories at the top.”

Facebook has made these changed based on feedback that it has received via its Feed Quality Program, which tasked thousands of regular participants with giving ideas on how to make their viewing experience more enjoyable. The findings lead to some noticeable tweaks that may help keep relevant topics from falling by the wayside in your News Feed.

“We’ve found that there are stories people don’t like or comment on that they still want to see, such as articles about a serious current event, or sad news from a friend,” wrote Facebook’s Moshe Blank and Jie Xu. “Based on this finding, we previously updated News Feed’s ranking to factor in how much time you spend reading a post within News Feed, regardless of whether you opened the article.”

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Facebook has also taken steps to stamp out “clickbait” stories that attempt to lure you in with an eye-catching title, yet deliver actual content that is either lackluster or completely contrary to what was expected. Other changes will be more noticeable on the mobile side, as Facebook will take into account how much time you spend reading a linked article (or Instant Article) from your News Feed using the app's internal browser. This will give the company better insight into what's relevant to you.

Finally, Facebook is hoping to make your News Feed more diverse, so that you’re not constantly seeing the articles from the same publisher over and over again. The company hopes that by giving users a better variety of content, they will of course stick around longer and use the service more. After all, the goal is to keep us all hooked on Facebook and to keep coming back for more, right? If Facebook doesn’t keep on its toes and ensure that users are happy (for the most part), it could find itself falling out of favor with users like long-forgotten Myspace.

The changes noted above will start filtering out to all Facebook users over the next few weeks.