Talking tech since 2003

Yesterday, Facebook announced its newly redesigned News Feed at an event hosted at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, California.  The new News Feed design focuses on unifying the design across multiple platforms, with a mobile-first mindset.  Mark Zuckerberg described the new News Feed as a personalized newspaper, that users can fully control.  Facebook users will soon have the ability to sort through multiple feeds with a feed switcher, allowing them to see what they want to see at all times, which is great (short-term), but what about EdgeRank?

Previously, Facebook users only had a single News Feed that showed posts that were decided to be important by the company’s secret algorithm known as EdgeRank (which has also been under scrutiny lately for allegedly promoting sponsored posts more than non-sponsored ones), but now that Facebook has given control back to the user with the feed switcher, it leaves me with the following question: What about EdgeRank?

A common complaint against Facebook’s constant EdgeRank algorithm tweaks was that people were missing updates from friends, but now there’s a “recent” option that includes everything in chronological order.  Additionally, there’s now a “friends” option in the switcher removes updates from pages and people who a user follows in order “to make sure I’m not missing anything my friends are doing on Facebook,” said Chris Struhar, the tech lead of Facebook’s News Feed. Meanwhile, a “following” feed provides updates from pages and people who you follow. In that mode, Struhar explains, “We’re putting it in chronological order to make sure content publishers know that their fans can see every single post that they make.”

So where does EdgeRank fit into this News Feed equation?  After all, EdgeRank is supposed to show you the content you would want to see, while filtering out the stuff you most likely don’t want to see, but many would argue that clearly isn’t how it’s working in reality.  But now, with so many options to filter your News Feed, how much of an impact can EdgeRank really have on a person’s News Feed?  Though maybe that’s the point.

Right now, it seems like the new News Feed redesign, intentionally or not, is a Band-Aid approach to solving the real problem at hand that is EdgeRank.  I’m all for giving users choice, but as you start to friend, Like, and subscribe to more pages and people on Facebook, the show-everything approach can only work for so long.

What’s really interesting is that according to The New York Times, the new News Feed redesign will not have any impact on the EdgeRank algorithm.  However, Facebook did acknowledge that the algorithm could be improved, so perhaps they are currently working on yet another set of tweaks that have yet to ship?  Whatever the case may be, EdgeRank needs to be fixed, and soon.

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