Every now and then, some of my Facebook friends will send me a private text message, or else post a comment under one of my graphics, in which they will say something like “Glad to see you are back, Bill!”
For a long while after I first joined Facebook, these types of comments used to puzzle me. That is, until I slowly figured out what was really going on. Now, not quite nine years later, I believe I better understand how Facebook works, and I would like to share my personal deductions — theories? — with you, based on my observations.
Over the past eight plus years, while there have been times when I have been less active on Facebook for a few weeks, or even seem to have disappeared altogether for a few days, due to personal health issues, the truth is that, for the most part, I have always been here. Even during the times when I don’t post a lot because I am feeling crappy, I still try to keep up-to-date on Facebook notifications regarding new friend requests, likes, post comments, etc.
So why is it that some folks get the impression that I have left Facebook, either temporarily, or even permanently?
Well, friends, it all comes down to the Facebook news feed. People make the assumption that I have left Facebook — or that I am at least temporarily out of commission — because they are seeing very little of my content in their news feed. But is this assumption correct? Not necessarily so.
So here is what I have discovered from my time on Facebook, and from observing my Facebook friends’ activities.
The first thing you need to understand is that Facebook is all about engagement. Facebook not only wants you to be active on your own timeline or page, but they also want you to like, comment on and share your friends’ posts. Why? Because the more you do these things, the better profile they can create of you. In other words, they can form a better picture of your personal online world.
Don’t ever forget that Facebook — and all other social networks — is not just about people around the world happily making friends with each other. It is really about personal data mining. That is, collecting information about you, and then doing who-knows-what with that information. Do we really want to know?
So what happens if you don’t do the aforementioned things? Well, my impression is that if you don’t frequently like, comment on and share a person’s posts, the Facebook algorithm interprets this as meaning you don’t have much interest in that person. As a result, that friend’s content slowly disappears from your news feed, giving you the false impression that they are no longer posting, or have left Facebook altogether. That is exactly what some of my friends have thought about me.
But there is more. As I thought on this further, I began to suspect that not all user actions have the same weight when it comes to Facebook’s algorithm. While I cannot conclusively prove it — because Facebook is so secretive regarding its algorithm — I don’t think that liking a post has as much weight as leaving a comment under a post. Furthermore, I don’t think that commenting on a friend’s post has as much weight as sharing their post on your own timeline.
As I said, Facebook is all about engagement. Liking a post involves the least amount of engagement — or time — so it has the least amount of weight of the three. Commenting on a friend’s post requires a little more investment of your time. So, I think it has more weight than just liking their post. And, of course, if you share that friend’s post on your own timeline, that requires even more of your time, and demonstrates a real interest in that person’s content. Thus, I think that sharing carries the most weight of the three.
In short, the more interest you show in a friend’s posts — expressed by which of the three actions you take — the more weight it carries. Facebook’s algorithm will then measure your level of interest in a particular friend based on the weight of your actions, and then determine how much of their content to display in your news feed accordingly.
So, while liking a friend’s posts may possibly increase the amount of their content that you see in your news feed, commenting on their posts may even better serve that purpose, and actually sharing their content on your own timeline will best serve that purpose, because it demonstrates your serious interest in their posts.
As I said, this is all personal deduction and theory, but it seems to make sense to me. What do you think?
Of course, no one really understands Facebook’s algorithm, except Facebook themselves. Please keep in mind that no matter how much you engage in the aforementioned three actions, you are still never going to see all of a friend’s posts in your news feed. It is simply physically and electronically impossible for Facebook’s servers to do that, and most certainly not for all of your friends. Facebook’s servers — no matter how powerful they are — would probably bog down very quickly, similar to a DDOS– Distributed Denial of Service — attack where things come to an absolute crawl.
I suspect that the way the Facebook algorithm may work, is that as it determines your level of interest in a friend’s posts — based on the weight you have generated for that person — it will give that friend’s posts priority over other posts by other people in your news feed. So, perhaps you may not necessarily see more of that friend’s posts, but what you do see, you may see more frequently. I honestly don’t know for sure how it works. You will just have to experiment and find out.
In conclusion, if you want to see more of my content in your news feed, then you need to engage more with it. While liking my posts may help in this regard, commenting on my posts, and sharing them on your own timeline will probably help even more. Why don’t you give it a try and see if it is true?
I hope you have found the above enlightening and beneficial.