Tech Transformers

Facebook wants your News Feed to get more personal; here’s why


The News Feed is the first thing you see when you open the Facebook app and the social networking company wants it to get a lot more personal.

Earlier this month, tweets surfaced showing Facebook testing a feature to allow users to scroll through categories such as "sports" or "world news" in the News Feed.


The testing was confirmed by a senior product designer on Thursday to CNBC who explained why customization of Facebook's features area is a key focus for the company.

"The thing that we want to do, you know our goal with News Feed, is if you as an individual get the stories and the news and the content that is most interesting to you. Not to the world at large but to you," Julie Zhuo, vice president of product design at Facebook,told CNBC in an interview at The Next Web Conference.

"Part of doing that is to make sure that we are able to get better signal about what you care about, what you don't care about. And a huge mission of the news feed team to really make that experience better and better so that you know we can get to the point where all the stuff we are showing you is the stuff that you want to see in the order of what's most important to you."

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Within the categories, users can customize what they would like to see around their specific preferences. It is currently being tested on the Android app.

Facebook tests its News Feed feature internally as well with a group that monitor what content is being surfaced.

"One of the things that we started to do was get a lot more input from real people. We have a group of people who are kind of our quality panel and what they do is every day they go through their own news feed and give us feedback," Zhuo told CNBC.

Nicholas Asfouri | AFP | Getty Images

"They give us this really really deep signal on every story on their news feed. And we use that to help us better train the way that we rank stories and do a better job for everyone. That has been hugely useful in terms of helping us calibrate on whether we are making progress on showing people better and better things."

Facebook has previously released features to help customize people's news feed. Last summer, it launched a feature called "See First" which allows users to choose which friends' posts appear at the top of their timeline.

For advertisers, a customized News Feed will give them the chance to target ads more effectively based on specific things people are interested in.

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And the move is also the chance for Facebook to keep people engaged with content on the social network rather than going elsewhere for news such as Twitter or Google.

The company launched a feature called "Instant Articles" last year - which allows publishers to host their articles on Facebook so they load quicker in-app. It is also pushing its video content. By surfacing more relevant content, users will be more engaged, and advertisers will be willing to spend more with Facebook.

There is no timeline as to when the new feature will be rolled out to all users.