Facebook Filtering Links in Friends' News Feeds

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We've discussed the topic of Facebook's filtered news feeds in the past, and it seems that it may be having some impact on Google+ invites. Tech writer Mike Elgan shared a video on Google+ showing a user trying to post a Google+ invite link. The link posted to his own feed, but side-by-side, you can see that the link did not post to his friend's feed.

First off, here's the video:

After posting the update, Elgan posted an update saying: " Some commenters are reporting that sending invites on Facebook does work for them, or is censored only in the Top News view. Possibilities that explain this include: 1) the video is a fake; 2) Facebook censored, then stopped censoring; or 3) Facebook is censoring only some people, using Edgerank somehow to censor or not censor according to some unpublished rules."

I believe option 3 is the most likely. Edgerank is the basis for Facebook's News Feed algorithm.

We did some internal testing here. I posted a Google+ invite link. Several other people around the office saw it in both their Top News and Most Recent feeds. One didn't see it in either, and they didn't have me blocked from their feed (which I was able to verify).

Why would Facebook only censor the Google+ link from some friends but not all? Well, I shared another unrelated link. The same people who saw the other one saw it. The person who didn't see the first one didn't see this one either, though they saw both links when someone else posted them.

So it appears that Facebook is simply algorithmically not letting my posts get into this one person's feed. Or at least all of my posts. That is, again, on both the Top News and The Most Recent feed, without any user blocking going on. I should point out that this person was not blocked on my end either.

Reports have indicated that Facebook will be launching an unfiltered version of the news feed, but clearly there is still some uninitiated filtering going on.

It doesn't appear that this is directly related to Google+, though it could still have implications for Google+'s growth. Facebook is the place where most people have the best chance of getting the link in front of the most other people - particularly the people they're friends with. If not everyone is seeing these links, that is less people that will sign up.

People are also more likely to sign up because one of their actual friends invited them, rather than just coming across a Google+ invite somewhere else out in the wild. In other words, Facebook is a key place for Google+ to win more users (people that are already into the social networking thing), and Facebook's feed filtering isn't helping things.

It's understandable that the video would be quick to jump to a conclusion over Facebook blocking Google+ directly, as the company has blocked Google+ profile ads before, but that doesn't seem to be what's going on here.

What do you think?

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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