Facebook cares about whether you think it cares about you.
Alongside the typical list of acronyms tracked by internet companies — MAUs, DAUs, ARPUs — Facebook also obsesses over “CAUs.”
The metric tracks how much people think Facebook “Cares About Us” and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made increasing it a big priority over the last two years, The Information’s Cory Weinberg and Amir Efrati report.
In the same way that the social network regularly surveys its users about whether they like the stories its algorithms surface, it also routinely questions people about their perception of it overall.
For example, Facebook saw a boost in CAU when it deployed Safety Checks after the Paris attacks, while the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral, or months when it lessens its News Feed ad load. CAU has sunk, however, as LGBTQ members have criticised its “real name policy” and as a net neutrality debate rages in India around Facebook’s Internet.org Free Basics program.
Alongside CAU, the company also measures whether its users see it as innovative and as a force for good, and sources tell The Information that Zuckerberg takes the metric into account when evaluating product and revenue decisions.
Although employees reportedly debate whether the company occasionally goes too far in its quest to boost CAU — like through the relatively twee “Have a good day!” messages you may have noticed bannered across your News Feed — the metric-obsession is working:
Surveys from the American Customer Satisfaction Index show that Facebook has made major gains since being the lowest marked social media company in 2012.
We reached out to Facebook about the CAU metric and will update this post if we hear anyting back.