Facebook is tweaking its News Feed algorithm again. This time, the social network is making adjustments to make it easier for people to ignore certain types of viral posts that may appear in their feeds. The change is happening due to a relatively new type of feedback the social network has been collecting called “story surveys.” The feature, which Facebook says is surfaced to “ten of thousands” of users a day, asks users to choose between two viral stories. “With this update, if a significant amount of people tell us they would prefer to see other posts more than that particular viral post, we’ll take that into account when ranking, so that viral post might show up lower in people’s feeds in the future, since it might not actually be interesting to people,” Facebook explains in a “News Feed FYI” post detailing the changes.
Facebook notes that the change could particularly affect stories about hoaxes, which are often shared a lot and receive a lot of comments. Typically, a post that is shared and commented on many times would appear higher in a users’ News Feed, since shares and comments are taken into account by News Feed’s ranking algorithm. This may no longer be the case with the update, Facebook says. If “the majority” of survey-takers respond unfavorably toward the story, then the story will appear lower down, even when it has many likes and shares.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has tweaked its News Feed to combat hoaxes. The company added a new feature earlier this year that allows people to mark posts as false. When a post is marked as false by enough people, it will appear less often in News Feeds and will include a warning that users have reported it for containing false information. The network also previously cracked down on clickbait in News Feed. Unlike that change, the company says it doesn’t expect the change to have a big impact on publishers since “viral posts are typically anomalies, and not an important part of distribution for Pages,” adding that there will be no change to where posts appear if users respond favorably in surveys.