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Facebook announces Story Bump tweak to News Feed algorithm

Facebook has announced that it has tweaked its News Feed ranking algorithm to display older stories you might have missed that are getting a lot of likes and comments. The social network has dubbed the new function Story Bump.

Stories you don't scroll down far enough to see on your News Feed will now reappear near the top of it the next time you visit Facebook, if the social network thinks you might find them interesting.

Facebook said it recently tested this change with a "small number of users," and found it yielded a 5 per cent increase in the number of likes, comments, and shares on the stories people saw from friends. It also lead to an 8 per cent increase in likes and comments on stories people saw from pages.

Before this change, Facebook users read 57 per cent of the stories populating their News Feeds, on average, and did not scroll far enough to see the other 43 per cent. When the unread posts were resurfaced, however, people read 70 per cent of stories.

"The data suggests that this update does a better job of showing people the stories they want to see, even if they missed them the first time. For page owners, this means their most popular organic page posts have a higher chance of being shown to more people, even if they're more than a few hours old," Facebook said.

Facebook also clarified how it ranks stories that appear on your News Feed. Every time you visit Facebook, there are an average of 1,500 potential stories from friends, people you follow, and pages available for you to see, the company said. These stories range from things you might be interested in, like wedding photos posted by a close friend, to things you probably don't care too much about, like an acquaintance checking into a restaurant.

The social network's algorithms rank stories based on your feedback, including how often you interact with the friend, page, or public figure who posted; the number of likes, shares, and comments the post received from other users and your friends in particular; and how much you have interacted with that type of post in the past. Facebook's algorithms also consider whether or not you and other people across the site are hiding or reporting a given post.

"When a user likes something, that tells News Feed that they want to see more of it; when they hide something, that tells News Feed to display less of that content in the future," Facebook said. "This allows us to prioritise an average of 300 stories out of these 1,500 stories to show each day."

Meanwhile, Facebook is reportedly aiming to gather more insight as to why you don't want to see certain posts when you hide them from your News Feed, according to recent reports. When you select the option to hide a post in the future, you'll be asked to specify if it was, for example, offensive or uninteresting.