Facebook does damage control after claims of rigged News Feed
One user reports a 1,000% increase in interaction after paying to promote a post
IDG News Service - Facebook is working to set the record straight following a report suggesting that the site is gaming its News Feed so that people who pay to promote their posts will get more interaction from users than those who don't.
Facebook issued a statement Monday, a day after a report in The New York Times took a critical look at the way the "follow" feature works on the social network. In a Times blog post Sunday, columnist Nick Bilton explained how the number of people liking and resharing links he posts has dropped dramatically since Facebook first launched following.
Organizations and people can enable the following feature on Facebook to let others see their posts without having to follow them back. The follow tool, which Facebook originally launched in 2011 as the "subscribe" button, has been referred to as the social network's version of Twitter. Bilton has following enabled on his account.
When he used Facebook's sponsored advertising tool to pay $7 to promote a post, Bilton saw a 1,000% increase in interaction with that article, he wrote. His argument is that Facebook's News Feed algorithm is providing incentives to followed users to pay to promote their posts when their engagement numbers drop.
Facebook said that's not the case.
"There have been recent claims suggesting that our News Feed algorithm suppresses organic distribution of posts in favor of paid posts in order to increase our revenue," the company said Monday in a statement. "This is not true."
"Our goal with News Feed is always to show each individual the most relevant blend of stories that maximizes engagement and interest," the company said, noting that overall engagement has in aggregate increased 34% year over year for people who have turned on the follow feature.
A few isolated data points should not be taken as representative of what is happening overall, the company said.
The site's promoted posts program, meanwhile, which was launched last October and was expanded to allow users to push their friends' posts to the top of news feeds last month.
However, the algorithm for News Feed is different from the company's advertising algorithm, "in that we don't replace the most engaging posts in News Feed with sponsored ones," Facebook said.
Also, comparing the engagement rates on two different posts year over year "is an apples-to-oranges comparison," said the company.
Still, in an attempt to explain the situation Bilton described, Facebook said it's possible that some users are engaging less with public figures now that the onslaught of marketing efforts and media coverage surrounding the follow tool has died down.
News Feed has been criticized before. The algorithms that it uses to display certain friends' content but not others has led to user complaints, while others have questioned whether it places too much emphasis on "likes" in determining whether to display ads.
Facebook has been tweaking News Feed since it was launched in 2006. On Thursday it will be getting a makeover, although a notice Facebook put out last week on the changes suggests they will only be cosmetic.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The Business of Social Business Social business represents a significant transformational opportunity for organizations. Read this whitepaper to learn more.
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Simplify and Consolidate Data Protection for Better Business Results Learn about IBM® Tivoli® Storage Manager Operations Center, which provides advanced visualization, built-in analytics and integrated workflow automation features that leapfrog traditional backup...
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,... All Social Media White Papers | Webcasts