In a blog post, Moshe Blank, Software Engineer, and Jie Xu, Research Scientist announced new changes to the News Feed algorithm and said that it was part of the company's "Feed Quality Program." The new algorithm has started rolling this to users worldwide and will continue over the coming weeks.
"Building on this work, we're learning that the time people choose to spend reading or watching content they clicked on from News Feed is an important signal that the story was interesting to them. We are adding another factor to News Feed ranking so that we will now predict how long you spend looking at an article in the Facebook mobile browser or an Instant Article after you have clicked through from News Feed," said the blog post.
The new change will also take into account how likely a user is to click on an article and then spend time reading it. Facebook, which now has nearly 1.6 billion monthly visitors, will also make an update to its algorithm to reduce how often users see several posts in a row from the same source in the News Feed.
"We will not be counting loading time towards this - we will be taking into account time spent reading and watching once the content has fully loaded. We will also be looking at the time spent within a threshold so as not to accidentally treat longer articles preferentially," added the company.
Facebook says the latest News Feed algorithm will help it better understand which articles are more interesting to users based on how long they read them. This will help Facebook to show more stories a user is interested in reading. With the implementation of the new algorithm, the company says some pages may see a small increase in referral traffic while some Pages might see minor decreases.
"This change only factor in the time people spend reading an article regardless of whether that time is spent reading an Instant Article or an article in the mobile Web browser," it adds.
In February, Facebook tweaked the News Feed to have more stories that were likely to be rated high by the user and were likely to engage with.