Facebook has made a change to how its News Feed stories are ranked and displayed on your Facebook account. The change that was made puts more emphasis on the speed of your internet connection to help determine which news story will be displayed next.
Before this change, News Feed stories were ranked right on Facebook servers, before they were sent to Facebook users. Then when they were transmitted to the users, they were displayed in the same order that they ranked on the servers. At first glance, this seems like it should work for everyone, however, when some stories require more data to be transmitted than others, users with slower connection speeds might end up having a less than desirable News Feed experience.
Facebook engineers Alexandru Petrescu and Sami Tas, have put together a somewhat technical article on the company’s engineering blog, explaining that Facebook is now able to rank its News Feed stories on the client side after it’s servers have sent them to your phone. The blog explains, “In our new architecture, instead of waiting to show new stories until after you’ve seen the stories we already ranked, the next best story is selected from a pool of both new stories from the server and unseen stories from the persistent cache, and then rendered in feed. This happens each time you scroll down one story. Every time the server sends another story, we can rank the story on the client and insert it in the appropriate spot in your News Feed in real time, even on a poor connection.”
Essentially, as the user scrolls through the news stories, Facebook is able to rank the possible news stories that have been added to the pool, in real time and then display them accordingly to the user. This new process of ranking news stories puts more of an emphasis on internet connection speed, as the blog explains, “This architecture also enables us to surface stories that have been optimized for your connection at the time of your session. For example, slow-loading content gets temporarily down-ranked while it loads because, before we show a story in your News Feed, we check to see whether the media in the story — the image, the video, the link preview, etc. — has been loaded on your device. If it hasn’t, we re-rank the stories on the client and prioritize those that have fully-loaded media.”
The Facebook engineers also point out that this way of ranking stories will be beneficial to all users, “These updates also will benefit people who typically have strong internet connections, as we all experience less than ideal internet connections at times.”