Earlier this month, the viziers and viscounts who run Facebook issued a proclamation. The algorithms that drive the platform’s News Feed—the central stream on its website and mobile apps—would now favor its newest product: live streaming video.
“We are making a small update to News Feed so that Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live, compared to after they are no longer live,” said Vibhi Kant and Jie Xu, two Facebook engineers, in a blog post. “People spend more than [three times] more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live.”
“This is because Facebook Live videos are more interesting in the moment than after the fact,” they added.
Whom the News Feed chooses to highlight, and why, can have enormous consequences that can ripple across the media world. When Facebook started to accent “high-quality content” in August 2013, it sent a deluge of traffic to certain brand-name news sites. The journalism industry is still dealing with the after-effects. Though other tech companies have experimented with live streaming (Twitter’s Periscope being the most notable example), Facebook Live and News Feed’s stream of attached free attention for it has the potential to make new media stars. So what’s being born there?