Ever since its genesis, the lifeblood of Facebook has been the News Feed, a scrolling list of the updates and activities generated by any given user’s friends. At a media session on Tuesday, Facebook announced that it will begin implementing a selection of small changes to the way the News Feed presents this information, so as to have it reach its maximum audience.
First, Facebook has begun to roll out Story Bumping. This service allows users to see important stories and activity from their friends that they might have otherwise missed due to time differences. While the News Feed was previously arranged to showcase all the stories that were new since a user’s last login, this new model arranges it so that all of the stories that are new to a particular user are arranged at the top. This allows a user to get the most “mileage” out of each post.
Facebook began to test this feature among 7,000 daily users throughout the month of July and is currently in the process of fully releasing it to all desktop and mobile users.
The second new feature that Facebook announced on Tuesday was Last Actor, which gives content generated by certain users preferential placement in the News Feed.
This feature indexes the last 50 interactions that a user has had, like posting a message on a friend’s timeline or liking a photo, and then aggregates these interactions, ranking them by their quantity. These interactions are then used to give preferential placement in a user’s News Feed to specific users, namely, those who have the most interactions with the given user. For example, if you post twice on your best friend’s timeline and like two of their pictures, one of their future status updates is more likely to appear at the top of your News Feed than the update of an old friend from school that you haven’t talked to in a few years.
While neither of these changes will have the radical impact that alterations like the introduction of the Timeline did, they’re sure to continue to propel Facebook forward as it seeks to retain its dominance over Twitter. They will allow the largest social network in the world to continue to hone and refine those characteristics that have compelled 1.15 billion people to flock to it over the last nine years, which, in and of itself, is a revolutionary feat.