Facebook's Introducing Topic-Specific News Feeds to Deliver More Content
When you log onto Facebook, either today or sometime soon, you're likely to be greeted with this message.
Facebook's been testing out the new streams for a few weeks on Android, while the Topic Feeds were initially flagged in October, then noticed in the wild back in April, but now it looks like they're rolling them out more widely - or, at least, they're available in Australia as of right now. Facebook's confirmed the changes are in testing phase, though how widespread those tests are we're not sure.
The default listings are based on the content you interact with most on the network, but you can change the feeds by clicking on the gear icon at the right.
On mobile (iOS), you can slide across to the 'More' option at the far right.
How the feeds themselves are ranked and shown is not immediately clear - they don't appear to be tied to your direct interests, but there is some level of data matching behind it, as they're not simply shown based on responses or timeliness.
For example, here's what I'm seeing in the 'Funny' topic feed.
Below this, there are other examples of posts that have gone up sooner and with more engagement - like this one:
This is well down the list, but as you can see, it was posted much more recently (3 hrs ago) and has a heap more engagement.
Some of those listed do display how you're connected to them, showing you if the user is connected to someone in your network:
But the majority don't.
From the looks of it, the early posts in the list are based on activity within your network or extended network - or maybe based on your past interactions - but the later ones are based on public posts and ranked by popularity, though that's just an educated guess.
It's another way for Facebook to get people consuming more content on the platform, though without the normal refinements of the News Feed, which is based on your behaviors and interests, the feeds themselves feel a little clumsy. There's also a couple of functional issues - if several people re-post something, for example, that same item will show up multiple times in the list. But even with these early issues, just having the feeds there will get more people clicking across and checking out what's on offer, which can only be beneficial for Zuckerberg's social giant.
The feeds may also be another way for Facebook to move in on Twitter territory of real-time news - though, as noted, the feed items themselves are not necessarily in chronological order.
At this stage, it's hard to tell how useful or beneficial the feeds could be, but it's likely early days for both users and Facebook - if the feeds were more specifically refined based on your activity and showed you more content of higher relevance, they could prove very useful, and very beneficial for The Social Network.
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