Facebook’s News Feed Quality Panel Goes Global

Facebook is now incorporating a human rating system into its News Feed algorithm globally, expanding on a US-based program that was first reported on in January of last year.

The Facebook News Feed Quality Panel, as this small group of folks have been called, work to help add a human element to the company’s algorithmic decision-making processes. As a detailed article published on Slate today discusses, Facebook—like other Silicon Valley giants like Amazon who rely heavily on algorithms—realize that machine learning still has limitations; and rather than just chalk those shortcomings up as the drawbacks of technology, decided to incorporate proposed News Feed changes into a small subset of users before they went live to the masses.

Though the revelation of the Facebook News Feed Quality Panel is not that surprising, one tidbit from the Slate article I found particularly interesting was this:

…thanks to all the tests and holdout groups, there are more than a dozen different versions of that master algorithm running in the world at any given time

This takes into account the stagnated roll-outs of iOS and Android apps vs. the desktop and mobile web versions; but, also, includes different versions of Facebook’s algorithms running internationally, in addition to any “holdout” users that receive these News Feed changes much later than their friends and family.

In addition to the News Feed Quality Panel, Facebook has been running a survey (which can be accessed, by some, by clicking the grey arrow at the top right of a post, then going down to “More Options”), which shows recent posts by friends side-by-side to see which one users favor seeing in their feed.

The company has also given users the ability to hide posts from their News Feed; a little-known feature that was rolled out this Summer. Facebook also gives users the ability to stay “friends” with people, but not see their posts at all.

For business owners and social media marketers, past Facebook algorithm changes have been quite vexing; however, inviting a human-powered element to the News Feed means that particularly engaging content could potentially raise organic reach for brands on the social network in the future.