As more people hang out reading content on Facebook, it would make sense that Facebook would make much more money. So naturally, Facebook wants to make sure their users are spend as much time as possible on the site as possible reading up on their Facebook feeds. In this case, Facebook is making time a very important factor when deciding what links to put in people’s feed, so naturally, they want to freshen up those feeds so the same old posts aren’t remaining in their feeds, ultimately boring people.
Now, Facebook’s news-feed ranking algorithm will attempt to guess the length of time you’ll be spending on an article on your phone when deciding what posts will be displayed in your feed. Facebook’s algorithm already considers the amount of time people spending looking at the posts in their feeds. Now, it’s going to extend that to third-party pages that those pages are linking to.
This change is being applied to any and all third-party links, and can be displayed in Facebook’s mobile in-app browser or as an Instant Article, such as YouTube videos, RodcastOne episodes, Reddit threads, etc. The only time it’ll factor in is when you’re utilizing Facebook’s mobile app, as Facebook can only count time spent in the Facebook browser. Plus, it applies to only organic posts, and not ads.
In the end, the result of adding time spent as a factor is pretty simple – the more time the social network feels people spend on any given link, the better the chance it’ll show you that particular link. If it’s real quality content, then it’ll probably be shown on your feed. If it’s clickbait, you can bet it won’t make the cut.
But on the other side of the coin, this simplicity can also be an issue. It’s possible for publishers and brands (or general users for that matter) to game the system and get their content to display on your feed. So how would the take advantage of this system? They would load their pages up with a bunch of ad-tech scripts so they take more time to load. They could even load the articles with animated GS and unnecessary paragraphs to get people to take longer reading the content.
But to combat this possibility, Facebook will have some measures in palace to prevent sites from doing this. If your page is loads slowly due to slow-loading scripts, then it won’t be given a boost, and it won’t be displayed in people’s feed. Plus, Facebook will cap the amount of time spent at an undisclosed threshold, meaning that the average Facebook news feed doesn’t begin resembling Longform’s home page.
Accoridng to a blog post by Facebook, which was published on Thursday, the company will also be cutting back how often they show people “several posts in a row from the same source in their News Feed.” This means that, if you used to see several posts by the same site grouped together before, this will end up not happening anymore. From this point on, you’ll only see one post at the top of your feed at a time. This will result in a greater variety of posts in your feed. Facebook doesn’t want you getting bored, and ultimately bouncing from their site.