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Facebook News Feed Algorithm: Facebook User Awareness
 

Facebook News Feed Algorithm: Facebook User Awareness

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Facebook News Feed Algorithm / Facebook User Awareness / Pilot Research ...

Facebook News Feed Algorithm / Facebook User Awareness / Pilot Research

Majority of Facebook users is not aware of the Facebook EdgeRank / News Feed Algorithm (excluding social media managers/specialists).

Facebook users are rather aware of the influence of their their ‘affirmative‘ actions (liking, sharing, commenting befriending, following, subscribing) than the influence of their ‘private‘ interactions with other users (messages, chatting), their ‘private‘ actions (adjusting privacy settings, creating & editing friends lists, sorting Facebook posts) and/or of their ‘negative‘ actions (hiding, reporting & blocking something).

Majority of Facebook users have used at least half of the features affecting their News Feed content shown but more than half of the Facebook users seem to be rather ‘passive‘ consumers of the News Feed content shown (not adjusting it in any way even though they seem to know about some ways of how to do it).

In general, more than half of the users have never reported or blocked anything on Facebook.

People rather subscribe to notifications from a page than from a person.

Majority of Facebook users know about the interest and/or friend list feature but only about 1/3 of them actually use it.

There are still some users (even among University students) who have never adjusted their privacy settings.

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    Facebook News Feed Algorithm: Facebook User Awareness Facebook News Feed Algorithm: Facebook User Awareness Presentation Transcript

    • January 2014 FACEBOOK NEWS FEED ALGORITHM: FACEBOOK USERS’ AWARENESS PILOT TESTING (n=25) PRELIMINARY RESEARCH DESIGN & OUTPUT SAMPLES (very limited generalisation) JAKUB RŮŽIČKA jameslittlerose@gmail.com cz.linkedin.com/in/littleROSE
    • Outline research background research objectives, questions & hypotheses methodology & research sample results conclusions & discussion
    • Outline research background research objectives, questions & hypotheses methodology & research sample results conclusions & discussion
    • Research Background
    • The Facebook News Feed algorithm (formerly known as ‘EdgeRank‘) decides which news/content streams are displayed on the main page of any user‘s Facebook account. Let’s start with some definitions by the Facebook Help Center [01]: What is News Feed? • News Feed - the center column of the Facebook home page - is a constantly updating list of stories from people and Pages that you follow on Facebook. News feed stories include status updates, photos, videos, links, app activity and likes. How does my News Feed determine which content is most interesting? • The News Feed algorithm uses several factors to determine top stories, including the number of comments, who posted the story, and what type of post it is (ex: photo, video, status update, etc.). • If you feel you're missing stories you'd like to see or seeing stories in your News Feed that you don't want to see, use the different News Feed controls to adjust your settings.
    • The ‘News Feed‘ (formerly ‘EdgeRank‘) algorithm governs what is displayed - and how high - on the News Feed (the center column on the main Facebook Page of any user). The Facebook algorithm is based on three basic variables [02]: affinity • Affinity is a one-way relationship between a User and an Edge. It could be understood as how close of a 'relationship' a Brand and a Fan may have. Affinity is built by repeat interactions with a Brand's Edges. Actions such as Commenting, Liking, Sharing, Clicking, and even Messaging can influence a user's Affinity. weight • Weight is a value system created by Facebook to increase/decrease the value of certain actions within Facebook. Commenting is more involved and therefore deemed more valuable than a Like. In the weighting system, comments would have a higher value than a Like. In this system all Edges are assigned a value chosen by Facebook. As a general rule, it's best to assume Edges that take the most time to accomplish tend to weigh more. time decay • Time Decay refers to how long the Edge has been alive; the older it is the less valuable it is. Time Decay is the easiest of the variables to understand. Mathematically it is understood as 1/(Time Since Action). • As an Edge ages, it loses value. This helps keep the News Feed fresh with interesting new content, as opposed to lingering old content.
    • Facebook News Feed Algorithm Formula What is EdgeRank?. Applum. http://www.whatisedgerank.com
    • While much of what is shown in the Facebook News Feed depends on the (automatic) algorithm, users also do have some level of control of what they see in their news feed [01] (while pointing out that many Facebook users might not be aware of these features and/or their effects on the NewsFeed content shown): sorting stories (i.e. content shared on Facebook) filtering by friend lists (created by Facebook users) switching between 'Top Stories' & 'Most Recent' stories managing updates from friends (following, i.e. subscribing to receiving their content & adjusting what stories you see from them) managing updates from Facebook Pages (subscribing to a page's notifications, checking its 'show in News Feed' button, adding the Page to a usercreated interest lists) hiding or unhiding people, Pages or types of stories reporting a story and/or reporting spam allowing 3rd party applications using Facebook Open Graph features adjusting user privacy settings
    • While much of what is shown in the Facebook News Feed depends on the (automatic) algorithm, users also do have some level of control of what they see in their news feed [01] (while pointing out that many Facebook users might not be aware of these features and/or their effects on the NewsFeed content shown): relationship settings hiding posts & spam reporting ('manually' adjustable by a user; 'learning' Facebook about what we want to see) (Facebook penalizes the content which is hided and/or reported by users) device (we are employing while using Facebook) & other technical considerations story bumping (i.e., reinforcement of the affinity factor, while weakening the time decay factor) choice of different feeds (diversity) public popularity (more weight to generally popular content) clicking on Facebook advertisements viewing other timelines (Facebook profiles) chronological by actor & last actor (tracking 50 most recent interactions and giving more weight to them) emphasis on visually engaging stories (/content) check-ins & userratings of places browsing, chatting, poking, attending events etc. (i.e. , any interaction)
    • Content Personalization Theoretical Issue & the reason why every social media marketer makes an effort to increase the ‘engagement‘ metrics
    • Theoretical issue The idea of ‘free Web 2.0 participation‘ is challenged by the work of Lawrence Lessing, who sees the (creators of) algorithms as the new ‘gatekeepers‘ – ‘code is the new law‘. [03] ‘As the world is now, code writers are increasingly lawmakers. They determine what the defaults of the Internet will be; whether privacy will be protected; the degree to which anonymity will be allowed; the extent to which access will be guaranteed. They are the ones who set its nature. Their decisions, now made in the interstices of how the Net is coded, define what the Net is.’ [03] Similary, the negative effects of content personalization in online services is a subject of Parisers ‘The Filtre Bubble’ [04] 2011 book.
    • Literature
    • Literature [01] How News Feed Works: Facebook Help Centre. FACEBOOK. [online]. Menlo Park, California, U.S., 2013 [Retrieved 2013-11-08]. https://www.facebook.com/help/327131014036297/ [02] What is EdgeRank? [online]. Chicago, Illinois, U.S.: Applum, 2013 [Retrieved 2013-1108]. http://www.whatisedgerank.com/ [03] PARISER, Eli. The Filtre Bubble: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think. New York, USA: Penguin Group US, 2011, 304p. ISBN 1101515120; 9781101515129. [04] LESSIG, Lawrence. Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. New York, NY, USA: Basic Books, 1999, 297p. ISBN 04-650-3913-8; 978-0465039135.
    • Outline research background research objectives, questions & hypotheses methodology & research sample results conclusions & discussion
    • Research Objectives
    • Research Objectives awareness of the News Feed content selection awareness of how they can affect it To examine Facebook users’: actual behavior (features affecting content personalisation usage)
    • Research Questions
    • Research Questions 1) • Are Facebook users aware of how their Facebook News Feed content is selected? 2) • Are Facebook users aware of the different Facebook features affecting their News Feed content shown? 3) • Do Facebook users use the different Facebook features affecting their News Feed content shown? 4) • Are Facebook users aware of the effects of using the different Facebook features on their News Feed content shown?
    • Research hypotheses
    • Hypotheses Majority of Facebook users is not aware of the Facebook EdgeRank/NewsFeed algorithm. Majority of Facebook users is aware of at least half of the Facebook features affecting their News Feed content shown. Majority of Facebook users have used at least half of the features affecting their News Feed content shown. Majority of Facebook users does not use the features on a regular basis. There are no significant differences between men & women. The older the user, the lower the overall awareness. The higher the education, the higher the overall awareness. There are no significant differences between different nationalities.
    • Outline research background research objectives, questions & hypotheses methodology & research sample results conclusions & discussion
    • Methodology
    • Target group active Facebook users (using Facebook at least once a week)
    • Research instrument & sampling An ONLINE SURVEY (questionnaire) was conducted to collect the data. Respondents were recruited using a non-probability sampling method, the SNOWBALL SAMPLING (among ACTIVE FACEBOOK USERS).
    • Questionnaire structure [average length = 10min] A typical ‘funnel structure’: starting with questions that are easy for the respondent to answer, following with more difficult ones & finishing with demographic and other classification questions: research objective clarification filtering question active Facebook users only (logingin at least once a week) questions about questions about question about respondent’s the frequency of respondent’s respondent‘s respondent‘s Facebook usage awareness of the awareness of the frequency usage of the different Facebook NewsFeed different Facebook detection features algorithm features ‘have you ever...?‘ usage frequency usage questions about respondent’s awareness of the different Facebook features affecting their News Feed content shown demographic questions gender age social media manager / specialist (or similar job) detection education acknowledgement nationality
    • Research Sample n = 25
    • Research sample Gender Age 100% 100% 90% 90% 80% 37.5% 80% 70% 70% 60% 60% 50% 50% 40% 40% 30% 30% 62.5% 30% 20% 20% 10% 10% 0% 70% 0% female male 20s 30s
    • Nationality
    • Education 100% 90% 24% 80% 70% 60% 36% 50% 40% 30% 36% 20% 10% 4% 0% Grammar school Bachelor's degree (or equivalent) Master's degree (or equivalent) Doctoral degree (or equivalent) High school (or equivalent)
    • less than once a week 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 72% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 16% 4% 4%4% 4-6 times a week 2-3 times a week Facebook usage once a week about once a day many times every day
    • Facebook proficiency (100% knowledge of all Facebook features)
    • Outline research background research objectives, questions & hypotheses methodology & research sample results conclusions & discussion
    • Results
    • Facebook News Feed Algorithm
    • Facebook News Feed Algorithm (/EdgeRank) familiarity 100% 90% 80% 46% 70% 60% 50% 40% 38% 30% 20% 8% 8% 10% 0% I have no idea I rather don’t know what this is (but I think I have some idea) I rather know (but I am not completely sure) I know for sure n=24 Do you know what Facebook EdgeRank and/or Facebook News Feed Algorithm is?
    • Knowledge of which Facebook features affect the algorithm liking (/becoming fan of) / unliking a page on Facebook following a page on Facebook following someone on Facebook adding a friend or ‘unfriending’ someone chatting with someone on Facebook subscribing to notifications from someone (checking ‘get notifications’) subscribing to notifications from a page (checking ‘get notifications’) showing someone’s posts in your news feed (checking ’show in news feed’) showing a page’s posts in your news feed (checking ’show in news feed’) liking, sharing and/or commenting a post by a person or by a page following a post by a person or a page adding a page to interest lists (checking ‘add to interest lists’) sending messages to someone on Facebook sorting Facebook posts (/stories) on the Facebook home page by ‘Top Stories’ or ‘Most Recent’ stories hiding/unhiding a post by a person or a page adjusting your personal user privacy settings creating and editing friend lists (e.g. ‘close friends’) liking, sharing and/or commenting a post by a person or by a page sorting Facebook posts (/stories) on the Facebook home page by friends lists reporting a post (/a spam) by a person or a page poking someone on Facebook blocking someone’s Facebook profile (/timeline) – not being able to see or contact each other reporting someone’s Facebook profile (/timeline) 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% n=24 Please, check all Facebook features that you believe, to some extent influence, which content (statuses, photos, videos, likes etc.) is displayed on your Facebook home page (called News Feed) 80%
    • How many people paid attention to all of the options Filled the ‘trap question‘ correctly Chart Title 100% liking (/becoming fan of) / unliking a… following a page on Facebook following someone on Facebook adding a friend or ‘unfriending’… chatting with someone on Facebook subscribing to notifications from… subscribing to notifications from a… showing someone’s posts in your… showing a page’s posts in your… liking, sharing and/or commenting a… following a post by a person or a page adding a page to interest lists… sending messages to someone on… sorting Facebook posts (/stories) on… hiding/unhiding a post by a person… adjusting your personal user privacy… creating and editing friend lists (e.g.… liking, sharing and/or commenting a… sorting Facebook posts (/stories) on… reporting a post (/a spam) by a… poking someone on Facebook blocking someone’s Facebook… reporting someone’s Facebook… 90% 80% 32% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 68% 20% 10% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 0% n=24 [please, check this option to make sure the questionnaire is displayed correctly (technical message)]
    • Knowledge & usage of different Facebook features
    • How many people paid attention to all of the options in the batteries of questions (the ‘trap question‘ filled correctly) Knowledge of the features Usage of the features 100% 100% 90% 90% 25% 80% 80% 70% 70% 60% 60% 50% 50% 40% 40% 12.5% 75% 30% 30% 20% 20% 10% 10% 0% 87.5% 0% n=24 [please select 'I rather don't know' to make sure the questionnaire is displayed correctly (technical message)] [please select 'I use it fequently' to make sure the questionnaire is displayed correctly (technical message)]
    • don‘t know rather know know for sure never used before Adjusting privacy settings knowledge ► usage rather don‘t know use rarely use sometimes use frequently knowledge usage 4.2% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [adjusting your personal user privacy settings] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [adjusting your personal user privacy settings]
    • Showing posts by ‘Top Stories’ or ‘Most Recent’ stories knowledge ► usage don‘t know rather don‘t know rather know know for sure never used before use rarely use sometimes use frequently knowledge usage 29% 0% 10% 33% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [sorting Facebook posts (/stories) on the Facebook home page by ‘Top Stories’ or ‘Most Recent’ stories] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [sorting Facebook posts (/stories) on the Facebook home page by ‘Top Stories’ or ‘Most Recent’ stories]
    • 100% (or nearly 100%) familiarity adding a friend or ‘unfriending’ someone liking, sharing and/or commenting a post by a person or by a page sending messages to someone on Facebook chatting with someone on Facebook poking someone on Facebook liking (/becoming fan of) / unliking a page on Facebook n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [...]
    • Knowledge of the current ‘following‘ feature on Facebook Following a Page on Facebook don‘t know 20% 40% 60% rather know know for sure Following someone on Facebook 79% 0% rather don‘t know 75% 80% 100% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [...]
    • don‘t know knowledge 21% usage 29% 0% 10% rather know know for sure never used before Following a single post by a person or a page knowledge ► usage rather don‘t know use rarely use sometimes use frequently 42% 38% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [...] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [...]
    • Subscribing to notifications from someone knowledge ► usage knowledge 29% usage 10% rather don‘t know rather know know for sure never used before use rarely use sometimes use frequently 63% 25% 0% don‘t know 54% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [subscribing to notifications from someone (checking ‘get notifications’)] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [subscribing to notifications from someone (checking ‘get notifications’)]
    • don‘t know knowledge 29% usage 10% know for sure use rarely use sometimes use frequently 54% 29% 0% rather know never used before Subscribing to notifications from a page knowledge ► usage rather don‘t know 33% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [subscribing to notifications from a page (checking ‘get notifications’)] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [subscribing to notifications from a page (checking ‘get notifications’)]
    • don‘t know knowledge 25% usage 10% know for sure use rarely use sometimes use frequently 54% 25% 0% rather know never used before Adding a page to interest lists knowledge ► usage rather don‘t know 46% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [adding a page to interest lists (checking ‘add to interest lists’)] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [adding a page to interest lists (checking ‘add to interest lists’)]
    • don‘t know knowledge 25% usage 10% know for sure use rarely use sometimes use frequently 67% 29% 0% rather know never used before Creating & editing friends lists knowledge ► usage rather don‘t know 42% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [creating and editing friends lists (e.g. ‘close friends’)] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [creating and editing friends lists (e.g. ‘close friends’)]
    • don‘t know knowledge 25% usage 10% 20% know for sure use rarely use sometimes use frequently 33% 50% 0% rather know never used before Sorting posts by friends lists knowledge ► usage rather don‘t know 33% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [sorting Facebook posts (/stories) on the Facebook home page by friends lists] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [sorting Facebook posts (/stories) on the Facebook home page by friends lists]
    • don‘t know knowledge 25% usage 10% know for sure use rarely use sometimes use frequently 67% 25% 0% rather know never used before Showing someone‘s post in NewsFeed knowledge ► usage rather don‘t know 25% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [showing someone’s posts in your news feed (checking ’show in news feed’)] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [showing someone’s posts in your news feed (checking ’show in news feed’)]
    • Showing a page’s posts in your news feed knowledge ► usage knowledge 25% usage 10% 20% rather don‘t know rather know know for sure never used before use rarely use sometimes use frequently 67% 25% 0% don‘t know 25% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [showing a page’s posts in your news feed (checking ’show in news feed’)] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [showing a page’s posts in your news feed (checking ’show in news feed’)]
    • don‘t know knowledge 17% usage 10% know for sure use rarely use sometimes use frequently 75% 21% 0% rather know never used before Hiding/unhiding a post by a person or a page knowledge ► usage rather don‘t know 42% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [...] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [...]
    • don‘t know knowledge 21% usage 10% 20% know for sure use rarely use sometimes use frequently 67% 54% 0% rather know never used before Reporting a post by a person or a page knowledge ► usage rather don‘t know 30% 38% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [reporting a post (/a spam) by a person or a page] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [reporting a post (/a spam) by a person or a page]
    • don‘t know knowledge 42% usage 10% 20% 30% know for sure use rarely use sometimes use frequently 50% 63% 0% rather know never used before Reporting someone‘s profile/timeline knowledge ► usage rather don‘t know 21% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [reporting someone’s Facebook profile (/timeline)] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [reporting someone’s Facebook profile (/timeline)]
    • don‘t know knowledge 38% usage 10% 20% 30% know for sure use rarely use sometimes use frequently 50% 58% 0% rather know never used before Reporting a page knowledge ► usage rather don‘t know 29% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [...] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [...]
    • don‘t know knowledge 33% usage 10% 20% know for sure use rarely use sometimes use frequently 63% 54% 0% rather know never used before Blocking someone‘s profile/timeline knowledge ► usage rather don‘t know 30% 38% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% n=24 Which of the following Facebook features do you know? [blocking someone’s Facebook profile (/timeline) – not being able to see or contact each other] How often do you use the following Facebook features? [blocking someone’s Facebook profile (/timeline) – not being able to see or contact each other]
    • Outline research background research objectives, questions & hypotheses methodology & research sample results conclusions & discussion
    • Conclusions about regular Facebook users in their 20s, University students
    • Conclusions Majority of Facebook users is not aware of the Facebook EdgeRank / NewsFeed algorithm. • seems to be true • (excluding social media managers/specialists) nearly no regular Facebook user knows about it Majority of Facebook users is aware of at least half of the Facebook features affecting their News Feed content shown. • doesn‘t seem to be true • Facebook users are rather aware of the influence of their their ‘affirmative‘ actions (liking, sharing, commenting befriending, following, subscribing) than the influence of their ‘private‘ interactions with other users (messages, chatting), their ‘private‘ actions (adjusting privacy settings, creating & editing friends lists, sorting Facebook posts) and/or of their ‘negative‘ actions (hiding, reporting & blocking something)
    • Conclusions Majority of Facebook users • seems to be true have used at but (related to the next point) least half of the • more than half of the Facebook users seem to be rather ‘passive‘ consumers of the News features Feed content shown (not adjusting it in any way even though they seem to know about some affecting their ways of how to do it) News Feed content shown. • seems to be true moreover Majority of • in general, more than half of the users have never reported or blocked anything on Facebook Facebook users • people rather subscribe to notifications from a page than from a person does not use • majority of Facebook users know about the interest and/or friend list feature but only about 1/3 the features on of them actually use it a regular basis. • there are still some users (even among University students) who have never adjusted their privacy settings
    • Conclusions There are no significant differences between men & women. The older the user, the lower the overall awareness. The higher the education, the higher the overall awareness. There are no significant differences between different nationalities. • N/A due to a limited sample
    • What have we learned? if we, University students in their 20s, really live in a filtre bubble while being controlled by algorithms, they /we don‘t care enough =) increasing the engagement of your posts (i.e. any interaction with your posts) still seems to be the best practice of increasing your overall Facebook visibility since not many users will ‘filter you out‘ manually
    • Discussion
    • Biases & limitations coverage, sampling & nonresponse errors • non-probability (snowball sampling), selection bias (self-selection) & English speaking people only - possibly higher education & younger (even though respondets were asked to re-send the questionnaire to various educational & age groups, it did not work) matrix grids (/long batteries of questions) prone to satisficing • identification • by ‘trap questions‘ – verifying whether respondents paid attention to all of the options in the batteries of questions • prevention • knowledge of which Facebook features affect the algorithm should be rather detected using several yes/no questions than one question with many checkboxes
    • Suggested improvements # of questions in batteries reduction adding questions related to Facebook News Feed Algorithm add tracking / data mining (using FQL & Graph API) suggested analysis (larger sample needed) • merging some similar questions with insignificant variance • devices used to access Facebook, browser X application, commercial content recognition, groups, applications, events etc. • combining or substituting (if possible) self-reported data with behavioral (/service usage) data • socio-demographic differentiation by correlations, ANOVA, regression, cluster analysis (education, age, nationality, gender, service usage frequency etc.) and user typology according to the service usage patterns
    • January 2014 FACEBOOK NEWS FEED ALGORITHM: FACEBOOK USERS’ AWARENESS PILOT TESTING (n=25) PRELIMINARY RESEARCH DESIGN & OUTPUT SAMPLES (very limited generalisation) JAKUB RŮŽIČKA jameslittlerose@gmail.com cz.linkedin.com/in/littleROSE