The issue over the changes to Facebook newsfeeds got a bit more interesting on Friday. While I had surmised on Wednesday that the changes were part of a broader rejiggering of the site (as apparently had Inside Facebook about a week earlier), that’s apparently not the case.
We contacted Facebook to understand more about the changes, and have received an interesting response. “We did not ‘change’ the settings,” spokeperson Jaime Schopflin told Technologizer. “We’ve simplified the News Feed settings that we’ve had in place for over a year. No default behavior has changed.”
That’s right–the change I had posted about really wasn’t a change at all: we’ve apparently haven’t been seeing the full newsfeed for a much longer period of time. As to whether the filtering has been going on for that entire period, or how these settings were “simplified” is unknown: Facebook had not responded to followup questions as Friday afternoon.
It appears that evidence of the first efforts to optimize newsfeeds came last April, when Facebook introduced a technology called EdgeRank. Indeed, the effort looks to have something to do with figuring out whether a newsfeed post from a friend is relevant enough to be listed in your own feed based on your interactivity with that friend. But then again, this looks like it was directed towards the recently-introduced “Top News” feature on the feeds.
Maybe Facebook also introduced it to the standard feed? Since the company’s not really being specific, we can only speculate.
So far, the change hasn’t seemed to go over well with some users. Here on Technologizer, in the comments to the last post show a majority have changed the settings back. On Twitter, those who responded also seemed a little irate. “Facebook makes another change without asking me. Getting tired of this,” Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg tweeted Wednesday night.