Facebook is expected to announce changes to its News Feed today, which could enable users to gain a better understanding of how to relegate updates from boring and distant acquaintances.
In an invitation to American reporters for the event in California today, Facebook said that it will be “talking about News Feed, and taking a deeper look at the ranking algorithms that determine which stories appear at the top of your feed. We’ll be discussing a specific update to organic ranking that’s coming up.”
The event will be live-streamed to London, and the European invitation notes that “we’ll also be talking about what’s coming next for News Feed”.
One of the most frequently expressed frustrations with Facebook, by users and brands alike, is how the social network determines which content to display in their News Feeds.
The News Feed ranking algorithm, unofficially known as “EdgeRank,” uses how close you are to someone, how popular a post is with others, how recently it was published, and many other signals to decide which posts and actions to display most prominently.
There are also options for users to manually hide posts from their News Feeds, but these are hidden within drop-down menus, hover cards, and the “Friend” button on people’s profiles, which require multiple clicks to use and make the whole process of modifying feeds a huge chore.
For years, Facebook has has been trying to persuade users to create lists of their closest friends so that it can refine their News Feeds, but uptake has been low. By improving the algorithm to make the process more transparent, users could be encouraged to take more of an active interest.
This could also encourage many businesses which are currently struggling to understand which of their fans see their News Feed posts to start paying for “Promoted Posts,” which are guaranteed to make it onto a cetain number of News Feeds.
Last week, sources close to Facebook reportedly told Bloomberg that 15-second adverts will start appearing on users’ News Feeds later this year.
The videos will be the same length as Facebook’s recently introduced Instagram videos, with the first advert a user sees in their news feed each day starting automatically but without sound. The company is said to be planning to sell the commercial space for as much as $US2.5 million daily.
“Given its similarity to TV, we believe the 15 second ad spots are a meaningful addition to Facebook as a platform and expect the experience with the ads will be optimised around giving the user control over sound,” said Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster in a research note.
“In other words, we expect the video ads will not be standard 15 second pre-rolls like YouTube ads; rather users will see the ads start streaming immediately as they scroll through their News Feed, somewhat similar to Vine, and will have the control to turn on sound if the video is interesting.”
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