Facebook has tweaked its algorithm again – for the benefit of publishers. The latest Facebook move yet again changes what you see more often in your timeline: If one of your friends posts a news article, it’s more likely to show up at the top of your news feed. This allows you to see more breaking news so you stay up-to-date on the latest stories and events.
Now, if this sounds familiar, it should. Twitter has been staking claim to the “breaking news” market for a long time. And it’s done a good job of it. Twitter has been at the center of major events for several years. In fact, you’ve even found reporters and anchors turning to Twitter to learn what’s going on – for both good and inaccurate information.
The way the Twitter feeds are set up is you see posts as they happen. So a breaking news story may come up often if a lot of people are talking about it. You can also search for news items by name or hashtags. Facebook has always been a little different. We turn to Facebook to find out what’s going on with our friends. Facebook has always touted themselves as a way to interact “personally” with people we may or may not know in the real world.
This algorithm update changes that. As opposed to the latest photos from a friend’s hike or an update from your world traveler friend, you may see a recent news story that none of your friends actually posted. But one that someone may have commented on.
If you’ve been on Facebook a lot lately (guilty as charged), you’ve already noticed this change. I’ve seen a lot more news stories at the top of my feed than posts by my friends. Facebook hasn’t officially said when they released this update, only that it was “very recently”. On the other hand, however, they’ve gotten enough data to show that publishers like Time and Buzzfeed have had significant increases in referral traffic from Facebook.
For businesses, this Facebook update is great news. You’ll definitely get more traffic to your site if you put out good information – good information being key – that others are willing to like, share, comment, etc. For individuals who just want to see their friends, this could be quite frustrating.