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Facebook turns tables on profile stalkers with News Feed tweak

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Facebook has tweaked its News Feed ranking algorithms in a bid to get users spending more time gazing at memes and cat pictures.

Mark Zuckerberg's free-content ad-network admitted that the way it had ranked updates posted on Facebook "isn't perfect". Indeed, some have long complained about how the company curates friends' "stories" for them.

Thus, Zuck's gang has updated its News Feed algorithm to creepily respond to "signals from you".

If a user, for example, spends lots of time stalking one mate's page they will suddenly see lots more posts from that person appearing in the main feed.

The frequency of "Likes" and comments added to individual posts will also help Facebook's software better amplify more popular stories, the publicly-trading outfit said.

The company added that "organic stories that people did not scroll down far enough to see can reappear near the top of News Feed if the stories are still getting lots of likes and comments".

It was also keen to keep its promise with admen, from whom Facebook creams off the majority of its revenue.

For Page owners, this means their most popular organic Page posts have a higher chance of being shown to more people, even if they're more than a few hours old. Advertisers should note, however, that this change does not impact how paid content appears in News Feeds.

Facebook explained that, during testing of a "random sample" of 7,000 daily active users during one week in July, it discovered an average of 1,500 potential stories posted by friends, people they follow and Pages for them to click on. But most peeps did not stick around long enough to scroll through all the posts.

It added that, when those posts were ordered chronologically, the number of "Likes" and comments on Facebook actually fell. Which is, of course, bad news for a site that is trying to make more and more cash out of ads.

The algorithm tweakage means that Facebook has refined what "news" lands on a user's feed. It is now prioritising 300 stories to display each day, with the software looking for "signals" about what should be made available and what should be pushed down the page. ®

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