In December 2017, rumors that a new Facebook algorithm was restricting the number of friends whose content appears in users’ newsfeeds hit the social media network:
😬I was wondering why my news feed felt so different lately… Just found out, Facebook has another new algorithm. 🙄 It seems like I only see the same small handful of my friends on my newsfeed anymore (whom I love)… so I’m doing a simple check, with your help! 🙌🏽💖
Can everybody do me a quick favor, pretty please?? 🙏🏼
If you’re seeing this, leave me a comment – just a quick “Hey” or your favorite emoji would be great. The more interaction you have with people, the more friends will show up on your feed.
Otherwise Facebook CHOOSES who you see.
The following post is circulating among my friends on Facebook. Is it true?
** 🌈Important ** Once you comment, you are welcome to turn OFF notifications for this post so you don’t see all the comments after you.
❤️Thank You!! I really appreciate it because I want to see as many of you as possible, and know what’s going on in all my friend’s lives! ✨🤸🏻♂️🎉
Feel free to copy and paste to your own wall so you can have more interaction as well!
Excited to see more about YOUR life again 😍
Although the content and claim were largely the same, another version of this rumor that spread a month later held that the algorithm specifically pared down the content in a user’s newsfeed to posts from either 25 or 26 friends:
My friends are littering my Facebook feed with this… true or false?:
“How to avoid hearing from the same 26 FB friends and nobody else:
Newsfeed recently shows only posts from the same few people, about 25, repeatedly the same, because Facebook has a new algorithm.
Their system chooses the people to read Your post. However, I would like to choose for myself: if you read this message leave me a quick comment, a “hi”, a sticker, whatever you want, so you will appear in my News Feed. I MISS YOU!
Do not hesitate to copy and paste on your wall so you can have more interaction with all your contacts and bypass the system. That’s why we don’t see all posts from our friends.
Some versions even claimed, inaccurately, that we had verified the purported new Facebook algorithm exists:
The truth is that no one seems to know exactly how Facebook’s algorithms work. Slate described the manner in which the social media network determines the order of content in any feed as “surprisingly inelegant, maddeningly mercurial, and stubbornly opaque.”
The rumors followed on the heels of an 11 January 2018 Facebook blog post that addressed changes to the service related to changes in the content mixture that users could expect to see in their newsfeeds:
Today we use signals like how many people react to, comment on or share posts to determine how high they appear in News Feed.
With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to — whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.
We will also prioritize posts from friends and family over public content, consistent with our News Feed values.
However, these changes were described as affecting content generated by businesses and publishers, not individual friends and family members, and the only disclosures made about those changes were that they were intended to increase (not limit) interactions with friends and family:
But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other … Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other.
We contacted Facebook to ask whether the claim of limiting personal interactions had merit, and a representative told us that the rumor held no water (which is in keeping with our own observations). As with other viral posts aiming to “trick” Facebook’s algorithm, this rumor is both misguided and ineffective.