Facebook That Their Algorithms Suppresses Unpaid Content

Posted Mar 5, 2013

Over the weekend, New York Times writer Nick Bilton wrote an article about how the engagement on his Facebook posts are dropping.  Facebook responded by writing an article called Fact Check.  Bilton said that he is seeing a drop in likes and shares from subscribers.  He said that he saw an immediate jump when he paid $7 to promote the article.  Bilton questioned how Facebook surfaces items in the News Feed as a result.

“Our goal with News Feed is always to show each individual the most relevant blend of stories that maximizes engagement and interest,” said Facebook.  “There have been recent claims suggesting that our News Feed algorithm suppresses organic distribution of posts in favor of paid posts in order to increase our revenue. This is not true. We want to clear up any misconceptions by explaining how the News Feed algorithm works.”

The Facebook article said that the company has tweaked how much of the content by a public figure is shared to their subscribers.  Facebook argues that comparing a post from one year to a totally different post from another year is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

Facebook said this past November that the three most important factors to determine if you will see a post in your feed is based on how you have reacted to the publisher in the past, how other people have reacted to the publisher’s story, and how you have reacted to similar stories previously.  If users stopped reacting to Bilton’s posts, it is likely that they will see them less and less.

Facebook goes on to say:

For early adopters of Follow, we do see instances where their follower numbers have gone up but their engagement has gone down from a year ago.
– When we first launched Follow, the press coverage combined with our marketing efforts drove large adoption. A lot of users started following public figures who had turned on Follow.
– Over time, some of those users engaged less with those figures, and so we started showing fewer stories from those figures to users who didn’t engage as much with their stories.
– The News Feed changes we made in the fall to focus on higher quality stories may have also decreased the distribution for less engaging stories from public figures.

In the past six months, however, we have introduced changes to solve the above instance ? the goal being to promote more content from public figures. These include organic units in NF such as “most shared on <publisher>,” “most shared about <topic>,” and redesigned feed stories for link shares that feature larger images and longer descriptions. Our index of partners has already seen a significant increase in traffic (35%) due to the introduction of these units.