Facebook Denies It Is 'Gaming' Its News Feed To Force Companies To Buy Ads

mark zuckerbergFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Photo: Flickr, Andrew Feinberg

In a little-noticed statement back on Oct. 25, Facebook denied it was “gaming” its news feed against posts written by advertisers.Two social media ad execs, both employed by agencies owned by WPP Group, complained last month that adjustments to Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm reduced the likelihood that any given post made by an advertiser with a brand page would be seen by that page’s followers. Facebook offers Promoted Posts for a fee, to ensure that all followers see any given message.

The conflict here is that while companies can use Facebook for free, they can’t guarantee that their messages have a wide reach unless they either pay Facebook to promote them, or create organically viral content that users actually want to share.

In a statement on Facebook Studio, its service for ad agencies, Facebook ads engineer Philip Zigoris wrote a blog post titled, “News Feed, Engagement, and Promoted Posts: How They Work.” It said:

Is Facebook “gaming” news feed so I pay for more ads to extend my messages’ reach?

While we make changes to news feed occasionally, the fundamental way it works has not changed. We mentioned earlier that news feed works to serve up messages – organic and paid – that people are most likely to interact with. Level of engagement with a message or ad is an important signal as to whether the message should be shown in more people’s news feeds.

Zigoris then admitted Facebook alters is Edgerank algorithm in regard to advertiser posts:

… We have done this in the past and will continue to make adjustments so that people see the most relevant stories to them, every time they log in.

The post went on to explain that, basically, Facebook does discriminate against messages that users aren’t interested in, but it naturally promotes messages that receive a high level of interaction from users. In other words, brands should be less spammy and more interesting when they make posts.

The underlying issue, however, is that advertisers know that Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm can be adjusted in their favour or against them, and that only Facebook can choose how that level is set. And there’s nothing they can do about it.


  • Facebook Accused Of Changing A Key Algorithm To Hurt Advertisers

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