July 24, 2013
Don’t Like A News Item? Facebook Wants To Know Why
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The ever data-hungry Facebook is now letting its users give them even more information. The social networking site has long allowed their members to "like" certain posts from companies or friends. These digital thumbs up are then used to drive ads or determine which other news items will show up in their feed. Alternatively, users can ask Facebook to hide a news item in their feed and now the social company wants to know why. According to ABC News, Facebook will begin asking users why they wanted to hide the news item in question to help them better determine which news items will appear in their feed. Though this new level of granularity could simplify some feeds, Facebook also plans to take this additional information and use it to fuel even more targeted ads.
"Over the next few months what you will see from us is more on why people like and don't like certain things in their feed," explained Fidji Simo, Facebook's product manager for ads, in an interview with ABC News.
"We are planning to refine those so users can tell us exactly the reasons they are hiding that piece of content."
These changes are expected to begin rolling out in three to four months, though Simo was not specific on how a user could more or less "dislike" a post. Currently, users who "hide" a post from a friend in their news feed are given two options; they can change which updates they receive from a company or friend. Additionally, users can determine which companies and friends will show up in their feeds.
Simo did suggest the feature could work in a similar way to reporting offensive or inappropriate content.
"If a lot of people start reporting that something is offensive, it's something we would probably not show to a lot more users," said Simo in her interview.
"If you tell us that something is uninteresting we would show you less about that, but we wouldn't use that signal with other users."
More than just a way to clean up a cluttered feed, however, Facebook plans to use these changes to better support their advertising. In the end, data is data. Using this data, companies can pitch better ads while knowing what users don't like, rather than simply what they do.
The social giant began placing ads in a place of prominence earlier this year when they redesigned the news feed to become the personalized newspaper for users. Right in step with pictures from friends and shared news items, ads have also grown in size when they appear in these feeds. Facebook also began giving users greater control over which kind of feed they want to see.
Though the company has often been chided for the way they handle user information in targeted ads, they're striving even harder to collect more information to deliver more ads. According to Simo, more information is the key to building better ads.
"The more relevant ads are, the better the Facebook experience," she said.