Facebook plans to launch a new test where it will take the focus away from political posts and updates about current events in Feeds and limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds.
It has been reported that the Facebook will also de-emphasize certain engagement signals, such as the probability of a user sharing or commenting on a post, in its ranking algorithm. The company will instead place more emphasis on other types of user feedback, like responses to surveys about the content that they wish to see or not see in their Feeds.
The social media company’s plan is an extension of its previous experiment, with which it reduced the amount of political content in some user News Feeds. The experiment was done after receiving feedback from users which suggested concerns about the impacts of divisive political debates on the platform.
After collecting sufficient data, Facebook is now ready to work on putting up less political content in users’ News Feed. It is expanding the test to users in Costa Rica, Sweden, Spain and Ireland.
Facebook also shared its updated algorithm approach, which it is launching in four nations initially. The new algorithm is designed to counter the current algorithm which incentivizes divisive debate by boosting posts that are more likely to spark back and forth discussion that is often angry and divisive in nature. The updated algorithm will reduce the emphasis on content that prompts negative discussion.
The update seems to be a useful one as not all engagement is beneficial, and often some types of engagement result in amplification of content that sparks debate. This is also why a lot of people on social media platforms manage to become famous, as the engagement algorithm simply generates responses for them whenever they need them.
CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg had previously mentioned how “people don't want politics and fighting to take over their experience” on Facebook. He continued to add that Facebook would focus on helping people “participate in healthy communities.”
We can’t say if Facebook’s new algorithm will bring about any major change soon, but as a new experiment, it seems to have potential of impacting how engagement works across Facebook.