Facebook Tweaks News Feed To Measure User Time

Facebook is once again fiddling with its News Feed algorithm -- this time to give more play to posts that users spend more time viewing.

The social network is adding another factor to its News Feed ranking so that it can predict how long users spend looking at an article in their mobile browser or an Instant Article after they have clicked through from News Feed.

“We’ve found that there are stories people don’t like or comment on that they still want to see, such as articles about a serious current event, or sad news from a friend,” by Moshe Blank and Jie Xu, engineers at Facebook note in a new blog post.

“We’re learning that the time people choose to spend reading or watching content they clicked on from News Feed is an important signal that the story was interesting to them,” according to Blank and Xu. 

“This update to ranking will take into account how likely you are to click on an article and then spend time reading it,” they note. “We will not be counting loading time toward this.”

Going forward, Blank and Xu said they don’t anticipate that most Pages will see any significant changes. “Some Pages might see a small increase in referral traffic, and some Pages might see minor decreases,” they guess.

Keeping publishers on their toes, Facebook rarely goes more than a month or two without tinkering with its News Feed algorithm.

When generating individual News Feeds, the social giant recently began considering user feedback, and especially indications that users like -- and like engaging with -- particular content.

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