Facebook announced a new update to how it shows content in the News Feed that re-evaluates how it shows posts that are going viral. The idea behind the update appears to be to stop the spread of content that while it is going viral, a large number of people indicate that they don’t want to see it.
Facebook software engineer Sami Tas and data scientist Ta Virot Chiraphadhanakul explain:
Sometimes stories on Facebook go viral, where millions of people see the same video, photo, or other post. It’s hard to predict when or why posts go viral. Sometimes this happens because lots of people are really interested in seeing that particular post. However, sometimes a post goes viral and many people tell us that they weren’t interested in seeing it, despite lots of people liking, sharing and commenting on it.
One example of a type of viral post that people report they don’t enjoy seeing in their News Feed are hoaxes. If there is a viral story about a hoax, it can get a lot of reshares and comments, which would normally help us infer it might be an interesting story. However, we’ve heard feedback that people don’t want to see these stories as much as other posts in their News Feed.
Facebook surveys tens of thousands of people each day and asks people if they prefer a specific viral post over another post. The update means Facebook will use it a greater signal when a “significant amount” of people say they prefer the other posts.
Hoaxes are just one example of where this update might make a difference, but are a common issue on the social network. If the update can help keep from spreading misinformation as much, it has to be a good thing.