Facebook’s algorithm previously factored in user interactions such as ‘liking’, sharing and commenting to determine the most relevant posts to display to its users. This week, Facebook introduced its new algorithm, which, in addition to its previous factors, will now include viewing time. Viewing time is the amount of time Facebook estimates that users will spend looking at a certain post. This could be in the form of a video, news article or status update.
Facebook had previously used “reading time” as a ranking factor as well, as Facebook would factor in individual users’ time spent viewing different types of content, segmented by its media platform. Facebook will now use this data to prioritize posts it believes are of interest to each user.
Facebook’s algorithm has long been at the forefront of its criticisms. There has been concern that its news feed has recently been overtaken by low-quality, “click-bait” posts. This update should help prevent these posts from flourishing. It’s important to note that this update appears to be exclusively concerning mobile viewers, seeing as Facebook solely mentioned mobile browsers in its announcement.
This update also intends to boost the diversity of news feeds, as Facebook hopes to prevent users from seeing content repeatedly published by the same producers. Facebook is betting on its users’ intelligence, as they seem to believe the average facebook user isn’t engaged by the mundane, low-quality content they’re currently subject to.