Facebook Provides New Explainer on How its News Feed Algorithm Works


Facebook has shared a new video explainer of how its infamous News Feed algorithm works, which doesn’t provide any major new insights or tips, but does give a good, general overview of Facebook’s content ranking process, and why some things gain more traction than others, based on individual response. 

As explained by Facebook:

Our goal is to make sure you see the posts that are most valuable to you at the top of your Feed every time you open the Facebook app. And because most people have more content in their News Feed than they could possibly browse in one session, we use an algorithm to determine the order of all of the posts you can see.”

The video outlines the process of feed ranking, including the four key elements that Facebook considers when selecting relevant content to display to each user.

Those elements are:

  • Inventory – This is the starting point, with all of the posts that you could potentially be shown each day in the initial sample set. These posts are based on the Pages and people you follow, and the content they’ve shared and engaged with, as well as the groups you’re a part of, and the ad content that you’re eligible to be served on any given day.
  • Signals – The algorithm then uses various signals to determine each post’s relevance to you. This is based on your connection to the person/Page sharing the update, including how you’ve interacted with them in the past. The algorithm also considers whether this is a photo, video or link post, which also factors into what you see, based on your engagement history (i.e. if you watch more video, you’ll be shown more video updates). 
How the News Feed Works
  • Predictions – Based on these considerations, the algorithm then makes predictions about your likely engagement with each new post, in an effort to highlight the most personally relevant content based on these factors.
  • Score – And finally, the algorithm will then scores each post in your content pool in order to rank them, taking into account all of these factors. The higher the relevance score, the more likely that post will appear at the top of your Facebook feed.
How Facebook's News Feed works

This is the basic gist of the News Feed, and based on this, you can extrapolate how to maximize reach on the platform. The more people who find your content personally relevant, and engage with your updates – be it by viewing, reacting, commenting, sharing – the more likely your content will appear higher in each individuals’ feed. And the more people in that group, the broader your Facebook reach.

Facebook further notes that users can personally customize their News Feed by using tools like ‘Favorites‘ to select the top 30 people and Pages they want to see most, while you can also sort your feed chronologically with the ‘Most Recent‘ sorting option – though that will revert to the algorithmic feed the next time you log in.

Facebook also says that users can indicate that individual posts are not relevant to them by selecting on the relevant options in the three dots menu on each post. That will then rank that content lower in future.

In addition to this, Facebook says that content that violates its policies – like hate speech and graphic violence – will often be removed before any user sees it, while other content that may be deemed offensive, but doesn’t meet the bar of removal, will often be downranked so fewer people see it. Worth noting if you’re looking to push the boundaries. 

It’s a good, basic overview of the fundamentals of Facebook’s feed algorithm, which can help provide additional context as to why you’re seeing what you are in your feed, and how the process works for those looking to optimize their Facebook strategy.

Facebook has previously provided similar explainers, which aim to remove some of the mystery from its content ranking process. Given this, this new video doesn’t share anything new, as such, but it’s still likely worth taking a look to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the basics of the Facebook process. 

You can check out the new video explainer here