Facebook took the shroud off its algorithm for ranking shared items today, debuting a new series of blog posts called News Feed FYI. In addition to giving a peek at the inner workings of News Feed, the first post announced a feature that will resurface older stories that received a lot of traction in the way of likes, comments, and shares.
Popular posts that users didn't see the first time around will be resurfaced at the top of their feeds. Facebook said highlighting these older stories led to a 5% increase in likes, comments, and shares in tests. The tweak also led to higher engagement, with users reading 70% of the items in their feeds, compared with 57% previously.
News Feed prioritizes about 300 stories out of the potential 1,500 from the average user's network to help people find information that's valuable to them. This prioritization had irked many users (including journalists) who complained about the selections.
"Our ranking isn’t perfect, but in our tests, when we stop ranking and instead show posts in chronological order, the number of stories people read and the likes and comments they make decrease," wrote Facebook engineer Lars Backstrom.
In addition to the total number of likes, comments, and shares, the algorithm responds to the frequency of interaction users have with friends, pages, public figures, and types of post.
[Image: Flickr user Mixy Lorenzo]