Facebook News Feed reduces link visibility for slow-loading sites
- Facebook will now show more fast-loading links in its mobile app's News Feed and lower the visibility of those that take longer to load, according to a blog post by the company.
- Factors like the user's internet connection and device type will be taken into account when determining which links to prioritize, Facebook said. News Feed will show users fewer videos and more status updates and links if they're on a slower internet connection, and will also download mobile content before a user clicks a link, which can shorten load time by 25%.
- The update will gradually roll out over the next several months to give publishers the chance to better optimize their content for mobile.
As mobile becomes a more dominant driver of Facebook's business, it's continuing to tinker with News Feed in order to improve the user experience. In 2015, Facebook launched Instant Articles (IA) — its proprietary version of stripped down, fast-loading mobile webpages — in an attempt to mend what's often been a rocky relationship with publishers but also keep readers within its own ecosystem.
The latest algorithm update might be a bid to spur greater adoption of IA as slow-loading publisher pages get more frequently punished in News Feed, though Facebook made no direct reference to its mobile-optimized pages in the blog post.
Facebook has worked to upgrade IA with ads and the prioritization of longer reads over clickbait. However, the product hasn't been a hit with all publishers, with many saying that it doesn't drive revenue or subscriptions. Major titles including Forbes, Hearst and The New York Times have since dropped out of using IA entirely, and others rarely post via the format.
Perhaps an admission that IA hasn't quite delivered the expected results, Facebook in May added an extension to make IA publisher content compatible with both Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Apple News for iOS devices. AMPs are largely seen as being IA's main competitor.
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