"Essentially, Facebook has determined that algorithms alone are not enough to determine the makeup of one’s News Feed." -- Steven Levy
Hackers author and all-around tech chronicler Steven Levy tells the story of how Facebook wants to learn more about what you want--and it's using actual humans to figure it out. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has already said that the Facebook News Feed is the company's most important product. He told Levy back in 2013 that his goal is "to build the perfect personalized newspaper for 1.1 billion people and counting."
So instead of just chomping data, which can sometimes be misleading (why did that person click there or not?), Facebook is asking people. (It's set up 600 testers around the US.) The goal? To learn not just how people interact with their news feed, but why. That data can't be collected without human intervention. So far the results have yielded lots of insight. The key finding is that Facebook is good for three things: connecting you with friends and family, informing you, and entertaining you. The last part is, not surprisingly, where the money is: "People really want to see stuff that drives a laugh or makes them feel happy, not necessarily information that’s super valuable," says Facebook News Feed product director, Adam Mossieri.
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