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Social Media Facebook Algorithms

Social Media Facebook Algorithms

How do social media platforms figure out what we like?


You’ve probably already noticed that social networks tend to suggest stuff that might be interesting to you. Sure, sometimes you get some really weird suggestions from Wish, but you probably found some really cool pages and even groups this way on Facebook, some interesting profiles on Twitter and Instagram, and maybe some interesting companies on LinkedIn.

But how does all that work? And, most importantly, why are things like that? Why did social networks change from a place to keep in touch with your friends and relatives into a way to discover new stuff you like and find like-minded people? Let’s take a look.

The Facebook business model

As you know, Facebook is free for users. You can create a profile, create groups and pages, connect with people, among other stuff, with no limitations.

So, where does the money come from?

From advertisement.

If you’ve ever created a Facebook page, you may have noticed you get immediately bombarded with notifications about creating ads for your page. For a rather small sum, you can promote any of your page’s posts and select which kind of people you want to reach: age range, gender, preferences, political positions, among many others. You can easily advertise even the most niche of pages.

The algorithm

But where does all of that information come from? Well, part of it comes directly from the user: date of birth, gender, relationship status, family, locations they went to and all that. Even if that information is restricted to yourself or just your friends in your profile, Facebook still has access to it and uses it to direct ads too.

Information about preferences also comes from you, but not directly. Facebook employs a machine learning algorithm designed to analyze the pages you like, the groups you are in, your posts and even your photos to find out what you like and what you don’t like.

Of course, finding out people’s preferences from their Facebook likes is no rocket science. If you enter someone’s profile and find a lot of likes on pages about hiking, then they clearly like hiking a lot. However, as of 2020 Facebook has more than 2.8 billion accounts. Nobody could possibly go through every single one of those everyday to update every user’s preferences in Facebook’s database.

Instead, the algorithm keeps track of your information and compares it with the patterns it already knows, and the usage patterns that other users have, and assigns to you some of the several categories it has figured out, while also creating and assigning more of those categories as time goes on.

Although Facebook jump-started this technology, most other social networks have adopted it too, such as Twitter and Instagram, allow their user base to grow exponentially and, with that, attract investments from many different kinds of companies.


Of course, the technology is good, but it isn’t perfect. If you go to your Facebook profile’s privacy settings, you can find your ad preference settings, and within it the list of categories that Facebook has assigned to you. Most of them will probably be spot on, but others will be nonsense and some will probably be outdated already. It may, however, explain the kinds of ads you’ve been getting. Keep in mind that Facebook also tracks you across many of the websites you visit!

In some way, one may also regard the technology as being too good. During the last few years Facebook has been facing scrutiny for using the algorithm to do social experiments, including only showing to users the kind of political posts which would already agree with their perspectives. And also, for allowing other companies to use all that data for their own ends, which allegedly has led to more political extremism. Remember the Cambridge Analytica controversy? Yeah, that kind of stuff.

These kinds of things show the power of technology today. Even an imperfect machine learning algorithm may be able to sway people’s opinion. Who knows what may come next?

Navigating the Waves of Change: Understanding Social Media Facebook Algorithms

Hey there, digital wanderers and social media aficionados! Have you ever felt like a tiny boat tossed around by the giant waves of Facebook’s news feed? One day you’re riding high on a wave of likes and comments, and the next, you’re lost at sea with hardly a notification in sight. What gives? Well, it’s all down to the mysterious world of social media Facebook algorithms. Let’s dive into the depths of these algorithms and figure out how they’re shaping our social media experience.

What’s an Algorithm Anyway?

In the simplest terms, an algorithm is a set of rules or a formula that helps solve a problem or make decisions. In the realm of Facebook, this algorithm decides what posts you see, and in what order, every time you scroll through your news feed. Think of it as a behind-the-scenes maestro, conducting an orchestra of content that tries to play the sweetest symphony tailored just for you.

The Evolution of Facebook’s Algorithm

Facebook’s algorithm wasn’t always this complex. Back in the good old days, the news feed was a simple beast—showing posts in chronological order. But as more people and businesses joined the platform, the feed became a crowded place. Facebook then introduced an algorithm to make sure you see posts that are the most relevant to you, not just the most recent.

Over the years, this algorithm has evolved into a sophisticated system that considers thousands of factors, or “signals,” to determine which posts appear in your news feed. These signals can include things like how often you interact with a friend, page, or public figure, the popularity of a post among your friends, and even the type of content (e.g., video, link, image, etc.).

How the Algorithm Impacts What You See

The aim of Facebook’s algorithm is to keep you scrolling for as long as possible by showing content that is most relevant and engaging to you. This could mean:

  • Posts from close friends and family: Facebook prioritises content from people you interact with most often.
  • Content you’re likely to engage with: If you often watch videos, you might see more video content. Love to comment on photos? Expect to see more of those in your feed.
  • Popular posts: Posts that receive a lot of engagement (likes, comments, shares) may appear more frequently, even if they’re from people or pages you don’t follow.

Controversies and Challenges

It’s not all smooth sailing, though. Facebook’s algorithm has come under fire for several reasons:

  • Echo chambers and filter bubbles: By prioritising content you’re likely to engage with, the algorithm can sometimes isolate you from diverse perspectives and viewpoints.
  • Impact on mental health: There’s ongoing debate about how the algorithm’s emphasis on engaging content may encourage sensationalism or negative interactions.
  • Transparency issues: Critics argue that Facebook’s algorithmic decisions can sometimes be opaque, with users and creators struggling to understand why certain content is promoted over others.

Tips for Navigating Facebook’s Algorithm

Whether you’re a casual user or a business trying to reach your audience, understanding how to work with Facebook’s algorithm can enhance your social media experience. Here are some tips:

  • Engage meaningfully: Genuine interactions, like comments and shares, are valued more highly than likes. Engaging thoughtfully with content can help ensure you see more relevant posts.
  • Diversify your interactions: Don’t just follow and interact with the same types of content and people. Broadening your horizons can help vary the content in your feed.
  • Use Facebook’s tools: Features like “See First” or “Hide Post” allow you to have some control over what you see in your feed.

The Future of Facebook’s Algorithm

Looking ahead, Facebook continues to tweak its algorithm in response to user feedback and broader societal issues. The introduction of AI and machine learning technologies promises even more personalised and dynamic news feeds. However, with these advancements come responsibilities—to ensure ethical considerations and transparency in how algorithms shape the social fabric of our online communities.


In the vast ocean of social media, Facebook’s algorithms serve as both a compass and a map, guiding and shaping our digital interactions. As we navigate these waters, staying informed and adaptable will help us harness the power of these algorithms for a more enjoyable and meaningful social media experience. Remember, at the end of the day, these algorithms are tools, and like any tool, understanding how to use them effectively is key to getting the most out of your Facebook journey. So keep exploring, keep engaging, and let’s make the most of this interconnected digital world!