Facebook is now using a new ranking system on mobile devices that will surface relevant content and stories in real time for users even if they are on a slow Internet connection. The “client-side ranking” will select content from Facebook’s servers and those pre-cached on a device and will re-rank what users see on their news feeds on the fly.
Facebook claims that these changes will allow those on the mobile app to consume more interesting articles, and though it is primarily targeted at emerging markets where Internet speeds are generally slower and less reliable, the ranking system will benefit everyone browsing the social media platform.
The tech giant has been working hard to overhaul its News Feed in recent months. It previously tweaked its system to enable stories to be cached on smartphones and tablets so that content could be displayed when a connection drops out, though this often involved older and less-relevant news stories.
Optimising content for connectivity
Facebook will now be able to access server-side content and automatically rank it alongside unseen stories from the device cache before preventing a more relevant feed to users. This process will occur every time a user scrolls down a page and will involve actions such as down-ranking more demanding content that features videos or photos.
Engineers Sami Tas and Alexandru Petrescu added in a Facebook blog post: “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 new system will take into account all of these factors plus algorithm scores and Internet speed to deliver the best feed possible. Facebook has claimed the update is just the beginning for its new architecture and that more updates will follow in the coming months. The latest change again highlights the importance of speed in search and social for content marketers, publishers and brands.