Publishers hit in Facebook's algorithm update

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 30 June 2016

In what can be seen as another blow to publishers, Facebook has again tweaked its algorithm to favour content from friends and family over content from publishers.

The social behemoth overnight released an inside look into how its News Feed algorithm works and what it weights highly, with Facebook's VP product management for the News Feed, Adam Mosseri, explaining that friends and family come first.

“Facebook was built on the idea of connecting people with their friends and family. That is still the driving principle of News Feed today. Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook,” he says.

“To help make sure you don’t miss the friends and family posts you are likely to care about, we put those posts toward the top of your News Feed. We learn from you and adapt over time,” he added.

After content from friends and family, Facebook has learnt that people then come to the platform to be informed and entertained - this is where publishers come in. However, as Facebook has created more and more tools to make it easier for publishers to publisher to the platform, to then shift up the algorithm can only leave some scratching their heads.

Roughly a year ago Facebook announced that publishers could now publish direct to the platform through its Instant Article offering, with local publishers such as Fairfax and global offering BuzzFeed and The Guardian all piling in. There's obvious benefit for publishers in being involved in Instant Articles, the offering creates better consumer experience via the faster load times and also their content in front of Facebook's massive audience. However the downsides have been well documented, with the biggest issue for publishers being the fact that they are giving Facebook their content for free, with Facebook then able to profit from it.

Now Facebook is changing the game yet again for publishers, pushing their content down the news feed, limiting one of the only upsides for Instant Articles, the audience.

“We are not in the business of picking which issues the world should read about,” Mosseri says. “We are in the business of connecting people and ideas — and matching people with the stories they find most meaningful.

“Our integrity depends on being inclusive of all perspectives and view points, and using ranking to connect people with the stories and sources they find the most meaningful and engaging,” he added.

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