How Messenger chats factor into what you see in Facebook’s News Feed
By Zach Miners
Haven’t seen many posts from some friends lately on Facebook? Perhaps you need to reach out directly to them.
How often you chat with someone using Facebook’s Messenger app is a signal the company uses to determine how to place posts in your feed. If you haven’t chatted with someone in a while on Messenger, and then you start chatting again, posts from that person might appear higher in your news feed.
That was one piece of information shared by Facebook engineers during a session Wednesday during the company’s F8 conference in San Francisco.
The algorithm Facebook uses to rank posts in people’s news feeds is a complicated one, and it’s always in flux, but the session, titled “How News Feed Works,” shed light on it.
If a user shares location data with Facebook, that is also taken into account. For example, posts of friends who are geographically near may get more prominent placement, said Lars Backstrom, news feeds engineering director.
However, the user’s interests and his or her history of activity on Facebook likely carry more weight, he said.
A user’s news feed contains every post from every friend, but Facebook places what it considers the most important entries higher, according to the engineers.
Some posts from Pages, however, may not always appear in users’ news feeds, if the posts don’t generate a lot activity on the site or if they’re overly promotional.
Another signal used for news feed ranking is how you watch and interact with video on Facebook, particularly videos that play automatically. Facebook began making videos that are shared natively on Facebook play automatically in 2013.
How long users spend watching auto-playing videos is a signal that Facebook is working to use to determine video placement, the engineers said. This type of information is vital to the marketers who advertise with video on Facebook.
Overall, some of the most important signals Facebook uses for its news feed ranking include the author of the post, the activity around it, and the type of content it includes, like a photo versus text. Photos tend to rank higher.