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Facebook Reveals News Feed Tweaks Favoring Friends Over Publishers

”In our continued efforts to be transparent about how we think about News Feed, we want to share those values,“ Facebook exec says

Facebook has altered its news feed algorithm to more heavily weight updates from a user’s friends and family over those of publishers, the company announced on Wednesday.

A memo written by product management VP Adam Mosseri laid out the guidelines the social media giant uses when making changes to the algorithm.

“We often make improvements to News Feed, and when we do, we rely on a set of core values,” he said. “These values — which we’ve been using for years — guide our thinking … in our continued efforts to be transparent about how we think about News Feed, we want to share those values with you.”

Mosseri listed three expectations users have of the news feed: connecting with friends and family, becoming informed, and being entertained.

“We’ve heard from our community that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about,” Facebook engineering director Lars Backstroke said in a blog post. “So we are updating News Feed over the coming weeks so that the things posted by the friends you care about are higher up in your News Feed.”

That update will necessarily hamper efforts by publishers to appear prominently in users’ feeds, which Mosseri admits now offer “far too much information for any one person to consume.” In an effort to solve that problem, the company says it relies on a set of core values to determine its news judgment.

The news feed values are labeled as follows: “Friends and family come first,” “a platform for all ideas,” “authentic communication,” “you control your experience” and “constant iteration.”

The first value is obvious, given the upcoming changes. The “platform for all ideas” value emphasizes the company’s desire to “welcome a multitude of viewpoints,” important in the wake of allegations last month that Facebook has been programming left-wing bias into its Trending Topics system.

The “authentic communication” value explains that Facebook considers user feedback to avoid spam and unwanted information. “Control your own experience” highlights tools such as “unfollow,” “hide” and “see first” options that allow a customizable product.

Finally, “constant iteration,” explains that Facebook views its work as “only 1 percent finished” and is “dedicated to improving along the way.”

“As News Feed evolves, we’ll continue building easy-to-use and powerful tools to give you the most personalized experience,” Mosseri wrote.