This is how algorithms determine what appears to you on your social network
Have you ever wondered why certain publications appear on your social network? What are the reasons why the contents of some contacts appear more frequently than those of others?
Social networks have become channels of daily content consumption and interaction for billions around the world, not for nothing they lead among the digital platforms with the largest number of users. There are more than 2,700 million active accounts on Facebook alone, followed by Instagram, which exceeds one billion users globally.
It is not a secret that these companies work through different algorithms that seek to personalize the content that appears to people when they enter their accounts. And it is precisely these who are responsible for ensuring that the photo of your family member or best friend always appears first when you enter your session or that you view content that is aligned with your positions and tastes more regularly.
“Ultimately, content rating is a dynamic association between people and algorithms,” said Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of Global Affairs, during a blog post last March, discussing how the decision to choose is made. that a certain post is in a more relevant position than another.
We tell you how Facebook and Instagram work, the two social networks with the largest number of accounts, and how their algorithms are developed.
Instagram: different methods
The platform, which was born in 2010, has been evolving the way in which content is shown to users. At first, the social network handled a chronological order that was later replaced by a model for prioritizing publications according to people’s preferences.
Adam Mosseri, director of Instagram, published last week on the platform’s blog that they do not really work with a single algorithm, but with many that, depending on each of the sections found within the application, show the user certain type of content.
In the case of the feed that users have when they enter their account, a higher priority is given to the posts made by the closest contacts and with which a greater interaction is registered.
In order to classify and understand who these people are, the social network is based on four criteria. The first is related to the information of the publication, such as what time it was published, if there is any person tagged, what is the location, among others.
The second criterion points to the person who posted it. “This helps us get an idea of how interesting the person can be to you and includes cues like how many times people have interacted with that person in the last few weeks,” Mosseri said.
The other element is the activity that the user has, that is, what things could interest him, according to the behaviors and publications that have liked or captured his attention. And finally, there is the history of the interactions, such as comments.
In this sense, Instagram prioritizes aspects such as how many seconds the person dedicates to a publication, if they saved it, liked it, commented on it or if they went to the profile of a certain user. Likewise, they avoid showing too many posts in a row from the same person.
In the ‘Explore’ section of the platform a different parameter is handled. There, people find photos or videos of accounts that they do not follow, but that could catch the user’s attention.
For this they have the criteria of the information of the publication, among these how many and how fast people interact with the content. In turn, the interaction history of the user who made the post and its activity is considered.
Here, Mosseri explains, they avoid showing things that may be annoying or sensitive in a general way for users, according to the Instagram recommendations guideline. This includes content that references suicide, eating disorders, or promotes cigarette smoking.
To have greater control over what appears to them within the social network, users can resort to features such as selecting close friends, mute certain accounts or mark posts with ‘I’m not interested’.
In the case of Facebook, the choices that the user makes when in their account also have a very important weight. This refers specifically, Clegg explained, to the relatives and acquaintances that are part of the list of friends, the pages that are followed and the groups in which they participate.
“This is the magic of social media, which sets it apart from older forms of media. There is no publisher that dictates the title of the cover that millions of people will read on Facebook. Instead, there are billions of covers, each personalized to our individual tastes and preferences, and each reflects our unique network of friends, pages and groups, “he said.
The social network determines that content is relevant to an account through a ranking process, which organizes the publications, according to what the algorithm indicates as significant for the user. The higher it is in the feed, the more it is related to the likes and interactions that the person has evidenced.
This takes into account the type of publication, when, how popular it is being among other nearby users. Based on this, the platform model establishes the probability that a content will like the account.
The algorithm establishes some positive and negative indicators, the first ones determine if a publication is worthwhile and the second, if it is wrong information or that it only seeks that the user clicks on a certain publication without necessarily fulfilling what its headline promises.
The contents are ordered by adding and subtracting those indicators mentioned. Leaving the posts with the highest posts at the top and most prominent and hiding those with the lowest results.