If you use Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that some people appear more frequently in your news feed. You may have also noticed that if you seek out someone you haven’t interacted with in ages and “like” something they posted, they’ll suddenly start appearing in your feed, too. It’s not a coincidence; it’s an algorithm. I wrote about this phenomenon almost two years ago, after I deactivated my Facebook account for a week. That post still gets a lot of hits (most from spammers, I suspect), and I myself sometimes still wonder if I should back off from Facebook.
This post is not about Facebook/online privacy, which is a whole other matter, but about an experiment done by Wired.com writer Mat Honan. It was interesting enough that I thought it would be worth spending a few minutes of your Tuesday morning. Honan spent 48 hours “liking” everything on Facebook, and soon he had lost most of his news feed to brands and links, which buried any updates from friends and family. It’s an interesting experiment, and is the main reason I rarely “like” anything from a company’s Facebook page. As I decided two years ago in my own experiment, my main purpose for using Facebook is to stay in touch with friends and family. Sure, I’ll tolerate and even thoroughly enjoy some business posts and ads, but I still want the “real life” news from people I know.