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Science
06 Jun 2017

Facebook has been vanishing your friends for some time now

Facebook decides what it will show or hide

Have you ever wondered what happened to all your friends on Facebook, why do they not post anymore or even if they do, why don't you get to see them anymore in your newsfeed?

Chances are they have been posting regularly but it's not reaching you because Facebook thinks you don't want to see them anymore.

Here's what happened to the friends, who vanished.

In context

Facebook decides what it will show or hide
A poor judge of action

Choice

A poor judge of action

Facebook algorithm continuously evolves with every decision you make and more often than not, these decisions are based on whims rather than conscious choices.

Every time you don't click on a "like" or give something a pass, it starts to appear less on your newsfeed and at one point, it vanishes into thin air as if it never existed in the first place.

Boundaries

What it thinks you need

Why is this crucial? Because Facebook has come out from the threshold, where you tell it what you like, and has started showing you the things it believes that you should like.

It has started taking decisions on your behalf by presuming that you are in a certain category and, therefore, should be contained within the same.

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A virtual experiment

Like

A virtual experiment

Let's consider you like a picture of your friend X and didn't like a picture of your friend Y. This "like" can be based on several factors but what Facebook understands from this is that "X" is in your circle and, therefore, he becomes a part of the inner loop.

Now all "X" related stuff will come to your newsfeed but not of Y's.

Bias

One "like" and a verdict is reached

Repeat the same with "Z" as a priority and with "X" ignored, "X" will vanish. You never wanted to let go of "X" but Facebook believes, since there has been no initial engagement, there is no need for further engagement.

At the same time, it also makes you biased; when you like a topic it will start focusing on that topic, eclipsing others.

Your whims become the driving force

Observation

Your whims become the driving force

One of Twitter's founders and co-creator of Blogger, Evan Williams made a very interesting observation.

He said, "Say you're driving down the road and see a car crash. Of course, you look. Everyone looks. The Internet interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car crashes, so it tries to supply them."

Since you are on Facebook mostly, do the math.

List

They are still alive but your feed doesn't agree

If you go right now and check people who are on your Facebook friends list and you haven't seen their posts for a while, you will find they are still posting regularly, but you are not getting to see them.

It's just because you didn't like their posts way back and Facebook took the call for you, believing he/she was no longer needed.

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