Facebook today announced it is tweaking its News Feed algorithm in the coming weeks to show fewer annoying and irrelevant ads. Specifically, the company says it is placing more emphasis on user feedback, including how often people report or hide an ad.
The company says these “updates” will improve the relevance and quality of the ads people see. If you regularly hide or report specific types of ads, Facebook says it will reduce the number of those types of ads it shows you (a change which only makes us wonder why it wasn’t doing this before).
Unsurprisingly, the company argues this is good for both users as well as marketers and advertisers. The former group should see ads that are “increasingly relevant” and fewer ads that “they might not be interested in.” The latter group will meanwhile benefit as their ads will be shown to the people who “might want to see them the most.”
Facebook also noted the goal of News Feed is to deliver “the right content to the right people at the right time,” whether that means typical social network content or ads. The News Feed algorithm currently chooses between thousands of ads by looking at things such as your interests and the Pages you Like.
As with any Web company that depends on user-generated content, this is a tight-rope balancing act for Facebook. Leaning too much towards users (no ads!) could significantly hurt revenue while leaning too much towards marketers (more ads!) could drive away users from the service.
Personally, I’ve seen ads on Facebook that are scary-relevant and others that are downright terrible. Hopefully these changes, which have been hinted at for a while, will improve the situation, although I’m not particularly interested in spending my time manually hiding and reporting ads.
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