Facebook Wants to Know If You Really Want to See That Viral Post in News Feed


Facebook has been conducting user surveys to fine-tune News Feed for quite some time, and the social network provided more details on those efforts in a Newsroom post.

Software engineer Sami Tas and data scientist Ta Virot Chiraphadhanakul wrote about the surveys:

As part of our ongoing effort to improve News Feed, we ask thousands of people every day to rate their experience and tell us how we can improve what they see when they check Facebook. People also take story surveys where they see two stories that could be in their News Feed and answer which they’d most want to see. We compare their answer to the order we would have put these stories in their News Feed. If the story picked is the one News Feed would have shown higher up, that’s a good sign that things are working well. If the story picked is the one we would have put lower down, this highlights an area for improvement.

Tas and Chiraphadhanakul also discussed how the social network tries to determine which viral posts are interesting to Facebook users and which they would rather not see:

We survey tens of thousands of people every day, and for the story surveys, we ask them if they prefer a particular viral post to another post. With this update, if a significant amount of people tell us they would prefer to see other posts more than that particular viral post, we’ll take that into account when ranking, so that viral post might show up lower in people’s feeds in the future, since it might not actually be interesting to people. With the hoaxes example, if the majority of people taking the survey say they would rather see another story in their feed than the viral hoax story, then we’ll infer the story might not be as interesting, and show the viral story lower down in people’s feeds in the future.

As for the potential impact on pages, they wrote:

As viral posts are typically anomalies, and not an important part of distribution for pages, we don’t think this change will impact your page’s distribution.

Readers: Have you ever taken one of Facebook’s News Feed surveys?


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Not News: 3.4M Fake Twitter Accounts Follow Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump


Twitter is a numbers game, or so we’re told. To get exposure you need more retweets. To get more retweets, you need more followers. To get more followers, you have to give the perception that you have a ton of followers. That’s allegedly how the game works.

In reality, as a social media company, we can tell you that the real value in Twitter comes through reach. It’s not how many times you’re retweeted or how many people follow you. It’s how many people you reach with your message. This is why most of the common statistics publicly available on Twitter are relatively worthless. They’re good for conversation, but that’s about it. The real numbers are in reach and engagement which are only available to the owners of a Twitter account itself.

For example, it would appear to be good that my personal Twitter account has 101K followers. The reality is that this number doesn’t do much for me. The only thing that truly counts is how many real people see and engage with the Tweets. Here is one of my most popular recent Tweets:

If you were to go strictly by the number of retweets and the number of followers I have, one might believe that this was a huge Tweet. It wasn’t.

Tweet Analysis

I’ve seen Tweets that reach millions that generate tens of thousands of clicks to the website. This popular Tweet generated 8 clicks. It didn’t exactly burn up the analytics, but then again that’s not the real value of Twitter from a political perspective. The real juice comes from exposure to a message. That’s what political strategists on social media are going for and it’s why, despite terrible numbers, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are winning the social media war.

Some are pointing to Clinton as having a bad situation with her fake Twitter followers, 41% of which are fake.

To be completely fair, it’s easy to fake followers. In fact, it’s easy for someone else to fake followers. For not very much money, someone can pay despicable companies to inflate Twitter numbers. This can be good for those who want to appear more popular than they really are but it can be an embarrassment for those who are running for office. With no fault of their own, someone can be painted as being too fake on social media and the majority of the masses who do not understand how this stuff works might view it as a negative.

Newt Gingrich found this out the hard way in the last Presidential election cycle.

For Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, their high fake follower numbers might seem shocking, but it’s really no big deal. There is no way to tell if someone artificially inflated their numbers to try to help them or if someone else tried to hurt them. It’s hard to imagine that either campaign would intentionally use fake techniques to inflate the numbers. After all, they would each be #1 for their party even if all of the fake accounts were removed.

I would never pass on an opportunity to point to Hillary Clinton’s faults, but this is not one of those cases. She has a ton of fake followers. Who cares? It’s meaningless.

For the record, here’s how the seven major candidates on Twitter break down based upon TwitterAudit‘s reports:

Candidate Twitter Accounts