For content providers looking to make an impact on Facebook, it’s not enough to simply go viral anymore—you must be the right type of viral.
A change in Facebook’s news feed algorithm will essentially work to push down some types of viral posts that appear in users’ feeds.
Based on the results of its “story surveys,” which Facebook says it gives to “tens of thousands” of users each day, the social network will punish popular stories that people don’t actually want to see.
It sounds convoluted—how can a story go viral if most people don’t want to see it?
A post in Facebook’s newsroom explains:
It’s hard to predict when or why posts go viral. Sometimes this happens because lots of people are really interested in seeing that particular post. However, sometimes a post goes viral and many people tell us that they weren’t interested in seeing it, despite lots of people liking, sharing and commenting on it.
One example of a type of viral post that people report they don’t enjoy seeing in their News Feed are hoaxes. If there is a viral story about a hoax, it can get a lot of reshares and comments, which would normally help us infer it might be an interesting story. However, we’ve heard feedback that people don’t want to see these stories as much as other posts in their News Feed.
So, if a viral story hits your news feed, chances are it was vetted through Facebook’s story surveys.
If it ends up very low in your news feed after you’ve been scrolling aimlessly for hours, chances are you wouldn’t have wanted to see it anyway.
For stories that go viral and pass the story survey test, there will be no change in how users see them.