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Facebook News Feed Algorithm Change History

by | Dec 20, 2017 | Resources |

Every time you open Facebook, the news feed algorithm shows you a few posts out of an average of 1500 pieces of content from every page, group, friend, or event you’ve interacted with. There is simply too much content for each person to get through so the content you see is curated based on what Facebook thinks you will like most in an effort to keep you on the social network longer.

Each year, Facebook changes its news feed algorithm hundreds of times to include over 100K ranking factors and even more experiments every day to optimize this process. While most of these changes are minor, Facebook occasionally rolls out a “major” algorithmic update that affects the news feed and organic post reach in significant ways.

For social media marketers, knowing the dates of these official Facebook updates can help explain changes in organic reach and ultimately inform a winning social media content strategy. Here are the major algorithmic changes that have had the biggest impact on the Facebook news feed.

Check out the Facebook News Feed Values and News Feed Publisher Guidelines for great tips on optimizing your content.

2017

December 18: Posts That Request Engagement Will Be Demoted

Including phrases like ‘like this’, ‘share this’, or ‘vote on’ in your post description to artificially gain reach will cause that post to be shown less in the news feed. Pages that engage in this behavior regularly will experience decreased reach overall.

News Feed FYI: Fighting Engagement Bait on Facebook

December 14: Video Ranking Includes Repeat Views and Search Intent

Video distribution will be affected by how many users return to watch regular video content from that publisher, how many users navigate directly to that page, and how closely the content matches searches on Facebook.

News Feed FYI: For Video, Intent and Repeat Viewership Matter

October 5: Article Context

Facebook is testing a button to give users additional information about links before leaving the news feed. The new information comes from Facebook and other sources and includes the publisher’s Wikipedia entry, a button to follow their Page, trending/related articles, and information about how the article is being shared by people on Facebook.

News Feed FYI: New Test to Provide Context About Articles

August 28: Blocking Ads from Pages that Repeatedly Share False News

Until this point, Facebook blocked the ability for pages to run ads on false news stories. With this update, pages who frequently share false news will be blocked from creating ads altogether. This is designed to stop the economic incentives for Facebook pages to create and spread false news as a means of building their audience or making money from those links.

Blocking Ads from Pages that Repeatedly Share False News

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August 17: Taking Action Against Video Clickbait

In order to fight deceptive and spammy posts, videos of a static image or images with a video play button will be demoted in the news feed

News Feed FYI: Taking Action Against Video Clickbait

August 15: News Feed Design Changes

Facebook rolled out some design changes improve readability, update icons, and make comment threads more clear. These design updates should not affect Pages’ reach or referral traffic.

Making News Feed an Easier Place to Connect and Navigate

August 9: Authentic Posts

Pages that engage in ‘cloaking’ or deceptive links to content that is different than what the link suggests will have their pages removed.

News Feed FYI: Addressing Cloaking So People See More Authentic Posts

August 3: Related Articles

A unit will appear below certain articles showing related content to give more context and offer broader perspectives. These articles will also include fact checkers where possible to cut down on false news.

Rolling Out Related Articles More Broadly

August 2: Preference for Faster Loading Mobile Webpages

In order to optimize the experience for mobile users, webpages that are particularly slow could see decreases in referral traffic.

News Feed FYI: Showing You Stories That Link to Faster-Loading Web pages

June 30: Informative Links

People who routinely share vast amounts of public posts per day may see a reduction in the distribution of low-quality links.

News Feed FYI: Showing More Informative Links in News Feed

May 17: Clickbait Headlines

Posts with headlines that withhold or sensationalize information will be demoted in the news feed. Clickbait is evaluated at the individual post, domain, and page level to help reduce this content.

News Feed FYI: New Updates to Reduce Clickbait Headlines

May 10: Low-Quality Webpages

Links to webpages with little substantive content or disruptive ads will be demoted in the news feed.

News Feed FYI: Reducing Links to Low-Quality Web Page Experiences

January 31: Authentic and Timely Stories

Facebook will more easily identify and demote pages posting spam or trying to game feed by asking for likes, comments or shares. Additionally, if there is a rise in engagement around a certain topic or post it will rise in your feed as Facebook determines that information might be temporarily more important to you

News Feed FYI: New Signals to Show You More Authentic and Timely Stories

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January 26: Video Length and Completion Rate

How much of a video your viewers complete is a huge engagement signal. Completion will now be weighted based on length so longer videos with strong engagement will rank higher organically than shorter ones with the same completion rate.

News Feed FYI: Updating How We Account For Video Completion Rates

2016

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December 16: Real, Live Video

Facebook live videos will appear higher in the newsfeed when they are live. However, if the video is just a static graphic or poll, it will be demoted.

News Feed FYI: Taking into Account Live Video When Ranking Feed

August 11: Personal Stories

In an effort to provide more personally relevant information to users, Facebook may prioritize posts from family and friends in the news feed. The news feed will also be even more customized based on unique user interests.

News Feed FYI: Showing You More Personally Informative Stories

August 4: Clickbait

Words commonly used in clickbait titles or articles users return from quickly will be demoted in the news feed.

News Feed FYI: Further Reducing Clickbait in Feed

June 29: Posts From Friends

Sorry pages, posts from friends and family will be getting the premium real estate in the news feed.

News Feed FYI: Helping Make Sure You Don’t Miss Stories from Friends

April 21: Post Viewing Time

In addition to clicks and likes, Facebook will now consider viewing time as a ranking factor

News Feed FYI: More Articles You Want to Spend Time Viewing

February 1: Feed Quality Panel

In addition to clicks and likes, Facebook will also survey users and include that feedback in their news feed ranking model

News Feed FYI: Using Qualitative Feedback to Show Relevant Stories

2015

December 4: Viral Hoaxes

Not everything that goes viral is useful to viewers. Facebook is using surveys to separate quality viral stories from accidental content like hoaxes

News Feed FYI: Using Surveys to Better Understand Viral Stories

October 6: News Feed for Speed

Facebook will be editing the newsfeed based on connection type, showing less heavy content (live videos) on slower connections so you can keep on scrolling

News Feed FYI: Building for All Connectivity

July 31: Hiding Posts

Even if you hide everything, your newsfeed still needs content. Facebook will keep serving posts to super-hiders so posts may get more hide engagements.

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June 29: Video Engagement

Determining whether or not users enjoy a video goes beyond likes and watch time. Facebook will now include other signals such as expanding to full screen or turning on sound.

News Feed FYI: Taking into Account More Actions on Videos

 

June 12: Time on Post

Even if a user does not like or comment on a story, the time they spend reading with it will be counted as a positive signal for the algorithm.

News Feed FYI: Taking Into Account Time Spent on Stories

 

April 21: Friends > Pages

Facebook is going to show users more friend-generated content and less from the pages they interact with. Brands will see a lower organic reach.

News Feed FYI: Balancing Content from Friends and Pages

 

2014

November 14: Reducing Promotional Posts

Overly-promotional page posts that re-use the same content from ads, push people to buy a product or app, or promote contests/promotions without context will be demoted in the news feed. Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time and should use ads to supplement that reach.

News Feed FYI: Reducing Overly Promotional Page Posts in News Feed

September 18: Trending Engagement

Facebook will take spikes of engagement into account in an effort to show people more timely posts when they are trending.

News Feed FYI: Showing More Timely Stories from Friends and Pages

August 25: Click Bait

Facebook is taking more steps to demote click-bait posts based on headline text and the speed at which people return to facebook from an article.

News Feed FYI: Click-baiting

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June 23: Video Views

Video distribution was based on likes, comments, and shared. Video views and viewing time will now be a factor in determining reach.

News Feed FYI: Showing Better Videos

May 27: App Shares

Auto-shared content from 3rd party apps is not as useful. Facebook will now check for explicit sharing concent to make sure 3rd party shares maintain their quality.

News Feed FYI: Giving People More Control Over When They Share from Apps

April 10: Like-Baiting & Annoying Posts

Posts that ask users to like, comment, or share will be demoted as they are 15% less valuable than posts with comparable engagement. Annoying posts that keep getting circulated and deceptive links will be demoted.

News Feed FYI: Cleaning Up News Feed Spam

February 24: Tagged Pages

When you tag another page in a post, your post may now be shown to fans of the page you tagged.

News Feed FYI: Showing Stories About Topics You Like

January 21: Text Updates From Pages

Post types from friends and pages will be treated differently. Text updates from friends are useful, but text updates from pages will be demoted because they are less engaging. Just stick to the videos and links that you’re used to.

News Feed FYI: What Happens When You See More Updates from Friends

2013

December 2: Discussion-Worthy Articles

Facebook will give preference to links of substance that are more likely to generate comments. This means posts on current events will be getting a leg up on memes.

News Feed FYI: Helping You Find More News to Talk About

August 23: Quality Algorithm Update

Facebook introduces a machine learning system to determine quality content based on relevance, trust, timeliness, and recommendation.

News Feed FYI: Showing More High-Quality Content