Facebook, recognizing that its users don’t necessarily want to know everything that their friends are doing on Facebook, announced today that it will be prioritizing stories that are shared purposefully over those that are auto-posted.
That means that users will see fewer notifications that some listened to “Happy” on Spotify, Pinned a guacamole recipe on Pinterest or burned 463 calories on a four-mile run measured by RunKeeper. Facebook calls such automatic posts implicitly shared stories and says its data shows they get less engagement than explicitly shared stories. Facebook explained the change in a blog post:
We’ve found that stories people choose to explicitly share from third party apps are typically more interesting and get more engagement in News Feed than stories shared from third party apps without explicit action. We’ve also heard that people often feel surprised or confused by stories that are shared without taking an explicit action.
The move is similar to Facebook’s backing away from “frictionless sharing” in late 2012 after encouraging publishers to build Open Graph apps that automatically sent notifications to users’ friends that they had read a story. Publishers, such as the Guardian and the Washington Post, initially received significant referral traffic gains from the apps before Facebook shifted its strategy then.
Two years later, Facebook continues to work on improving the quality of the News Feed, also recognizing that people prefer to retain control of when and how they share on the network. At its F8 conference in April, Facebook announced that it is giving third-party developers the means to offer anonymous logins and also give users more control over how their information is shared on third-party apps.
None of these moves, of course, mean that Facebook is giving up on collecting third-party data, which will continue to be saved, crunched and used to target advertising on the network.