Why does that guy I barely know from the 10th grade keep showing up in my Facebook feed?
If you've ever spent time on Facebook, you've probably pondered that last one. The social-networking giant promises to keep us connected with our friends in exchange for pumping a steady diet of advertising at us—but the algorithms Facebook uses to decide what news to pass along can seem capricious or altogether impenetrable.
The Daily Beast therefore ran an experiment to try to find out what criteria Facebook uses to show you stuff.
And it works the other way too -- how much of your stuff gets shown to friends who really find it interesting, and how much to people who find it irrelevant and boring?
Most of what I put on Facebook is links to my blog posts, and I don't suppose they would all interest all my friends on Facebook. The blog posts fall into four or five main categories, and some of my Facebook friends might be interested in only one or two of them, and some might be interested in none of them.
- Literature and culture
- Politics and society
- Family and family history
- Everything else
So what if Facebook shows my family and family history stuff to people who aren't related, or the theology stuff to atheists/agnostics, or the politics and society stuff to the guy I knew in Grade 10 who now lives on the other side of the world and is completely apolitical?
The Facebook News Feed: How it Works,10 Biggest Secrets - The Daily Beast:
You might think you've shared those adorable new baby photos or the news of your big promotion with all of your friends. Yet not only does Facebook decide who will and won't see the news, it also keeps the details of its interventions relatively discreet.
All the while, Facebook, like Google, continues to redefine 'what's important to you' as 'what's important to other people.' In that framework, the serendipitous belongs to those who connect directly with their friends in the real world—or at least take the time to skip their news feed and go visit their friends' pages directly once in a while.
It also seems that the more friends your friends have, the less likely they will be to see your stuff, not just because there's just too much of it, but because Facebook is less likely to show it to them.
Now I wonder how many of my Facebook friends will see this, and how many will comment on it on Facebook, and how many will comment on it here?