Facebook’s switch to a news feed that displays different content depending on when you last visited will greatly change how we use this social network.
Prior to this “Return Visit-Aware Content Stream”, Facebook struggled with user requirements primarily because we all use the site very differently.
For example, frequent users of Facebook (returning multiple times per day) would see the same stories in the ‘Top News’ feed leaving many to consider this feed old and outdated. Inversely, those who visit Facebook infrequently (once a week or longer) would see only the most ‘Liked’ or most commented / clicked stories covering only the last few hours thereby missing the majority of events that had occurred since they last visited the site.
Facebook claims to have solved this problem with the single-tabbed return visit-aware news feed that should align its interface with natural human habits.
The “Top News” and “Most Recent” tabs have been combined into a single one, shifting the initial burden of choice from the user to Facebook. This works because a human typically doesn’t ask someone “Tell me what’s happened to you in the last [78 hours or 35 minutes]?” The respondent simply knows when they last spoke and tailors their transmission appropriately.
By marking and unmarking stories as “highlighted” using the blue corners in the interface, you can teach Facebook’s EdgeRank news feed ordering algorithm your preferences.
The end result is a news feed that usually shows interesting content. This inspires longer session times; more return visits; and more Likes, comments, and shares on news feed stories that trigger notifications or create content that pulls in other users.
Predicably the rest of the web may also now follow suit and adopt similar in site “return visit-aware content stream systems” for your next visit however long that may be..