30 people are changing your Facebook experience

Facebook testers

In an office in Tennessee 30 people are contracted to go through their personal Facebook feeds and like, comment and share. Yes, they’re being paid to do what 1.39 billion people do monthly for free…

Facebook intends to learn from the way these users engage with content and use that knowledge to make the News Feed “central to our existence.”

At the beginning we simply used our own intuitions and our own experiences, that’s all we had… The goal is to build the perfect personalized newspaper for 1.1 billion people and counting.

The project as a whole now uses around 600 people around the United States working four hours a day.

Basically, if people see the time they spend on Facebook as wasted they will spend less time on it, so Facebook is striving to improve the experience and make sure it is ‘rewarding’ to the user. We’ve spoken about how ‘rewarding’ users can find social network before with Twitter users having their ‘sense of personal relevance’ increase by 51% when using the social network. The 30 Tennessean testers, as well as the other 550 ‘raters’, are being used to figure out to provide rewarding content to all of Facebook’s users.

Here’s how they’re doing it:

• They log in and click on a button instantly presenting then with what Facebook algorithms consider the 30 top News Feed stories for their individual profiles

• They interact with the posts as they would at home — ignoring or engaging with it.

• After ignoring or engaging the raters answer eight questions about how they felt about the story – such as how much they care about the person in the story, how welcome the story was in the News Feed, and how entertaining they found the story.

• Finally, they write a paragraph explaining their overall feelings towards the story.

• Sometime Facebook personnel visit and quiz raters individually on their reactions to stories too.

So what have they found?

Unsurprisingly, nothing tops vital news from close friends. In fact, the impact of close friends extended to the way people reacted to stories posted by friends and family that don’t necessarily involve personal news.

They also found that if a story is posted by a close friend or relative, a Like does not reflect approval of what appears, but shows your connection with the author.

“It’s almost a diss not to like it.”

However, if the Like is for acquaintances or news stories they generally reflect personal interest.

One of the more interesting findings has been that while people claim they want deep and meaningful content, on a story-by-story basis most users are responding to content that provides instant gratification – mostly humorous content.

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