Facebook users care more about feedback than total views, writes a Facebook engineer to thwart a claim that the company hides the number of views from a post.
Buzzfeed revealed Thursday that the social network conceals the real number of people who see posts to alleviate the pain of seeing how many people pass by it, without a like or a comment.
Lars Backstrom, a software engineer who works on Facebook News Feed, clarified and refuted the claim as "plain wrong" because Facebook tests revealed most users are interested only in feedback, rather than the total views.
To back its assertions, Buzzfeed referred to a study published by Stanford to analyze audience logs for 220,000 Facebook users about an "invisible audience" over one month. It said Facebook users underestimate the general audience size by a factor of three, whereas they underestimate their audience on specific posts by a factor of four. In fact, the study found that the social network reaches 35 percent of friends with every post and 61 percent of friends every month.
The social media audiences studied in the research consist of Facebook log data and a survey. With Facebook algorithmically ranking the content list on News Feed, the authors of the study said, due to that and varied login frequencies of friends, not all friends of a user will see his or her activity.
The BuzzFeed article written by Charlie Warzel put faith on the notion: "...the only thing worse than speaking to an empty room is speaking to a room full of friends and family and having them ignore you." Even though it sounds unpleasant, that reasoning why the social network will not show regular Facebook users the number of people who see their posts seems credible.
Facebook does not want to hurt its online community of more than 1.11 billion users. However, regular users often wonder whether friends find their post interesting or not.
Backstrom supported his argument against BuzzFeed in the Facebook post with some information, although not an official statement from the company. He said a number of Facebook engineers create and test several features, and they found that more people have an interest on who liked their posts, rather than the view counts. They determined that interest through thousands of feedback about News Feed every month. He said if an adequate amount of people will ask for the view counts on regular user accounts, they will certainly take it into consideration.
On that end, Facebook has the discretion whether to add view counts as an added feature for posts or not. If the company does implement view counts, it will take up screen space and provide little use compared to other features, especially on mobile devices.
Contrary to what a number of regular users believe, view counts are available where and when it is relevant. It is available to advertisers, Facebook Groups, and Page owners. For these instances, Facebook finds the feature valuable enough to authorize the space it occupies.
A number of people may consider view count interesting, but this feature can be disruptive. Rummaging a list of hundreds of Facebook users who viewed a post is inconvenient for the regular user.
Who would want to leave a digital footprint that may work against them when browsing Facebook accounts and pages? You will only get an anxious feeling from entering a community that tracks your every move and shows the data to everyone. I can live with the first one, but the second is completely infringes my privacy.
For utility or transparency, whatever your case is, do you really want Facebook to show this information?