Washington Post writer Tim Herrera meticulously tracked and cataloged his Facebook News Feed content for five or six hours on July 17, noting 1,417 status updates, photos, links, likes, event invites and more. However, he was confused by what content he was seeing. So he combed through every piece of content posted by his friends and pages he liked during that same time frame. What he found: he only saw a fraction of the amount of content posted by his connections, and most of the content in his Newsfeed was old.
Even though he spent a ton of time sifting through his Facebook News Feed, Herrera still only saw an estimated 29 percent of total content. The exact workings of Facebook’s algorithm is mysterious, though it does attempt to promote popular posts that people are interacting with. It also tries to read each user’s interests and provide content based on that, though as Herrera pointed out, often that content is just plain wrong.
“Even as I was doing my experiment, I could see subtle shifts in what appeared, which, in turn, perhaps changes who Facebook thinks I am,” he wrote. “Status updates from… high school friends I hadn’t interacted with in years suddenly started popping up… The same went for Pages I liked long ago and forgot about, and parties in New York I wasn’t invited to but saw close friends RSVP to.”
A great way to bypass Facebook’s News Feed algorithm is to use Custom Lists.
Readers: do you feel like your News Feed is an accurate reflection of your interests? Do you think Facebook should pay such close attention to what you like to create your content?