The Evolution of Facebook's News Feed

Jennifer Barker

Business Development Strategist

Facebook launched its News Feed in 2006, about 18 months after the site was first created. In the beginning, people thought the News Feed was mostly a place to get the scoop on their friends’ mundane details such as what they ate for lunch, what mood they were in or how the traffic was on the way to work.

While any average person’s News Feed is ultimately going to contain some of this, the News Feed has evolved into much more than just a play-by-play of people’s lives. Facebook’s News Feed has become a digital billboard for people, advertisers, publishers and celebrities alike.

Let’s take a look at how Facebook has evolved over the years and what changes we’ve seen. We guarantee that you’ll learn a few cool things after reading this post!

Let’s begin.

The News Feed wasn’t well-liked in the beginning.

Facebook spent its first year-and-a-half as a cleaner and more streamlined version of My Space. It was intended for college students, and with a profile came the option to upload a profile picture, some basic bio information, groups to join and a wall to write on. It wasn’t until the News Feed was launched that user activity was collected into a single timeline.

People always get angry when things change, but there was some validity to Facebook users’ disappointment with the News Feed. Not everyone was happy about having their posts or messages made public, so Mark Zuckerberg came out, apologized and agreed to build in privacy controls. And so, the development of the News Feed algorithm was born.

Facebook “likes” weren’t a thing until 6 years after its launch.

It’s hard to believe that there was a time in Facebook’s existence where “likes” didn’t exist, as they are such an integral part of the platform today. But it’s true. It wasn’t until 6 years after its launching that Facebook came out with the like button.

The purpose of the like button was to help Facebook engineers measure user interest. Before the button, there was no real way to determine which types of posts users liked best.

When the like feature was introduced in 2010, it gave FB engineers a better idea of the posts that users engaged with most. Today, users now have the option to not just like a post, but love, laugh, cry or get mad at it using emojis.

People trust Facebook’s News Feed for relevant, reliable and up-to-date news.

More people are turning to Facebook to read about trending topics, popular news stories and more. Facebook is a reliable source of information because of its extensive algorithm and relevant News Feed that does an excellent job of delivering important news stories to users based on their interests, who they follow, where they live and more.

The social site is also a great place to get news because users are also able to see how others feel about it. Rather than reading a single article, Facebook’s News Feed is filled with comments, reactions and discussions. No longer do you have to wonder what your friends are thinking about similar issues - now the proof is in front of you!

Facebook’s algorithm uses a relevancy score to decide which posts to show first.

Facebook’s algorithm has been updated plenty of times, and it takes into consideration hundreds of variables before showing users content. The algorithm has been polished and fine tuned to be fairly accurate in predicting whether a user will click, like, comment, share, hide or mark the post as spam. The algorithm then takes these predictions and uses them to create a “relevancy score” that’s specific to the user and each post.

When looking at your individual News Feed, it’s cool to think that what Facebook is showing you has been clearly thought-out by the algorithm. It’s predicted how you will react to the posts and in which order they will be shown using the relevancy score. In other words, the posts shown at the top of your feed are the ones Facebook is guessing you to like and engage with most.

Users can personalize their Facebook experience using the customization options.

Facebook has so many different features, it’s possible for users to personalize their experience. For instance, here are some of the options that are available:

  • Hide ads so you never have to see them again.

  • Get notified when your favorite people post.

  • Get notified when things happen in groups.

  • Save stories to read later.

  • Search for old posts, pictures and more using keywords.

  • Browse popular articles by using the “what’s trending” feature.

  • Follow events, even if you haven’t committed to them.

  • Unfollow people or pages so you never see their posts.

  • Switch between seeing the most recent posts or the most popular posts.

Summary

Facebook’s News Feed has evolved tremendously over the years. To think that it went from not even being a part of Facebook, to being highly disliked by users to now becoming one of the most trusted and popular places to get our news is incredible.

While it’s sometimes a little creepy to see just how much Facebook watches our moves and uses this information to build profiles of us, it’s also something that we’ve become accustomed to. This intuitiveness, along with the endless customization options, make Facebook a highly relevant and personalized tool for us all.

 
About the Author: Jennifer Barker

Jen is the Business Development Strategist for SEMGeeks and the only team member born and raised north of the Jersey great divide, i.e. the Driscoll Bridge. Her BFA in multimedia design and extensive experience in digital marketing make her both an analytical and creative thinker. Jen has lived and worked for digital agencies in two major cities over the last 17 years but 3 years ago this “gypsy living, free bird” happily put her roots down at the Jersey Shore. The struggle to defend North Jersey to the rest of the team is an ongoing battle. #TaylorHam

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