Companion Guide: Widely Viewed Content Report

UPDATED

AUG 18, 2021

Overview

This guide is a companion to our Widely Viewed Content Report, a quarterly update that provides an overview of the content that reaches the most people on Facebook. Facebook’s insights tool, CrowdTangle, shares the number of interactions on public content, and this new report will help provide additional transparency by showing what content is most widely viewed on Facebook.

A few things to note:

In any given quarter, the report may include posts that have been subsequently taken down by the original content creator or by Facebook, posts that have been subsequently made non-Public, or links that no longer exist. In these cases, for privacy reasons we won’t display the original content, but will instead leave a placeholder and note that the content in question is now private or has been deleted. For more information, see our Data Policy.

In any given quarter, some of the posts in the Top 20 may contain lower-quality content; we're always working to improve our automated detection systems to better identify and reduce the distribution of these kinds of items in News Feed. To read more about the kinds of content we aim to minimize in News Feed, see this post.

How we define and measure views may change as we improve our methodologies, measure reach in more languages, or include new parts of our services. As a result, historical comparisons may be imperfect. All numbers in the report are rounded, and due to rounding, some totals included in the report may not equal the sum of the separate figures.

Scope, terminology & methodology

Scope:

Over time, the Widely Viewed Content Report will provide more detail on the most-viewed content that people see on Facebook. It starts with the Top 20 most-viewed domains, links, Pages and posts in News Feed in the past quarter, and excludes ads but includes content recommended by Facebook within News Feed units like Suggested For You. If an organic post has been boosted with ad credits, only the views that are organic (i.e., views that don’t come from the boosted version of that post) will be counted in views and reach. For example, if a post generated 35% of its reach from a boosted version and 65% of its reach organically from Page followers who saw the original version, we’ll only factor in the organic/non-boosted 65% in the report.

Views on content that have been garnered outside of News Feed — for example, from directly within Groups, Watch, Marketplace, the News tab, or other surfaces within the app — will not be counted.

Other Terms Used in the Report:
Content View

is what is counted whenever a piece of content appears in News Feed. If there are multiple pieces of content in a post, the view is assigned to the post.

Content Viewer

is an account who viewed a piece of content on News Feed. This metric is estimated.

Domain

refers to the name of a website.

Link

refers to a web address that leads to a specific webpage. Note that all links must contain a domain, but sometimes links are just the domain itself. For example, facebook.com is Facebook's homepage as well as its domain. For this reason it may appear that domains are included in the link section of the report, when in fact these are links that contain only domains.

News Feed

is the constantly updating list of posts in the middle of a user’s home page which includes status updates, photos, videos, links, app activity and interactions from people, Pages and Groups.

Organic Content

refers to any post that is not an advertisement.

Page

refers to public pages created by businesses, brands, celebrities, creators, media outlets and more.

Posts with a link

is any post that has an external link included in it. The report does not consider email addresses to be links.

How we measure views & viewers

Content views are registered when a piece of content appears on someone’s News Feed, is visible on their phone, computer or tablet, and is present long enough to be seen; ‘Content viewers’ refers to the number of accounts who have viewed a piece of content.

How content gets distributed in News Feed

News Feed can connect you to who and what matters most: your people, your interests, and your world together in one place. Our goal is to make sure you see the posts that are most valuable to you at the top of your Feed every time you open the Facebook app — and because most people have more content in their News Feed than they could possibly browse in one session, we use an algorithm to determine the order of all of the posts you see. Every friend you connect with, Group you join, Page you like, comment you make, or response you leave on surveys like, “Is this post worth your time?” is an input as to what is most meaningful to you, and the algorithm determines the order of posts in News Feed by predicting what you’re most likely to be interested in based on all of this activity. This personalization makes you an active participant in the experience, and because these inputs are customized for every person, no two News Feeds are alike.

How the algorithm works

To prioritize the most meaningful posts at the top of your News Feed, the algorithm works in four steps:

Inventory

The first step the algorithm considers is your inventory, or the total set of posts you could see when you open Facebook. This includes all the posts shared by the people you’ve chosen to follow or connect with as ‘friends’, the Pages you follow and the Groups you have joined, interspersed with ads and recommended content we think will be relevant to you based on your Facebook activity.

Signals

Then, for each of these posts, the algorithm considers multiple factors such as who posted it; how you have previously interacted with that person; whether it’s a photo, a video, a link; and how popular the post is based on things like how many of your Friends liked it, Pages that re-shared it, etc. All of these factors are called signals.

Predictions

From there, the algorithm uses these signals to make a series of predictions about each post based on how likely it is to be relevant to you: for example, how likely you might be to comment on it, or how likely you would be to find it worth your time. We run a number of surveys asking people whether a post was worth their time and based on those survey responses, we predict how likely people are to find a post worthwhile. Posts that are predicted to be more worthwhile are shown higher up in News Feed.

Relevance

Lastly, the algorithm calculates a relevance score for each post in your inventory based on these signals and predictions. Posts with higher scores are more likely to be interesting to you, so they’ll be placed closer to the top of your News Feed, and posts with lower scores will be closer to the bottom. We also occasionally recommend content to you that you may not already be connected to, if we think it may be relevant or interesting to you. This video visualizes how this entire process generally works.

What gets increased distribution in News Feed-- and what doesn’t

The News Feed algorithm process considers personalized predictions — like how likely you personally are to find a post relevant — as well as content-specific quality markers that can influence a post’s position in Feed. For example, there are some kinds of content to which the algorithm gives increased distribution: if it’s from your friends or family, if you have indicated that it is worth your time, if it’s likely to foster a meaningful interaction, or if it contains a quality indicator — like if a piece of news is original content or if people will likely feel a piece of News content is informative as measured through surveys — the algorithm assigns it a higher relevance score, and it will often show up closer to the top of your News Feed.

Conversely, there are some kinds of posts that people have told us they don’t want to see, or are broadly understood to be harmful. We remove content from Facebook altogether when it poses a real risk of harm, like graphic violence, hate speech, or fake COVID-19 cures. This is why Facebook has Community Standards that prohibit hateful or harmful content, and why we invest heavily in developing ways of identifying it and acting on it quickly. We also use News Feed ranking to reduce the distribution of posts that may contain content that people find objectionable, but don’t necessarily meet the bar of removal under our policies. If a post is likely to contain misinformation, a sensationalized health claim, or clickbait, for example, it will receive a lower relevance score and appear lower in News Feed as a result. We monitor for new types of problematic content like these and develop new algorithmic levers to detect and enforce against them.

Recommending new content in News Feed

Beyond helping you connect with people you already know, Facebook can help you discover interesting content from around the world. To do this, in News Feed we’ll occasionally suggest new videos, photos, or articles from Pages and Groups that you don’t already follow, but that we think may interest you. These suggestions appear in News Feed units like Suggested For You, and we also do this across the app in surfaces like Groups You Should Join, Pages You Might Like, People You Might Know, and Recommended Videos in Watch.

These post suggestions are primarily based on factors such as post engagement, related topics, and location. Because you haven’t chosen to follow these accounts on Facebook, we have clear guidelines about what content we aim to recommend to people.

Several factors influence your suggested posts in News Feed, such as:

Related engagement

A post may be suggested for you if other people who interacted with the post also previously interacted with the same Group, Page, or post as you.

Related topics

If you’ve recently engaged with a certain topic on Facebook, we may suggest other posts that are related to that topic. For example, if you recently liked or commented on a post from a basketball Page, we could suggest other posts about basketball.

Location

You may see a suggested post based on where you are and what people near you are interacting with on Facebook.

Giving people more context and control over their News Feed

We believe it's important you feel in control of your News Feed experience. In addition to shaping your News Feed every time you engage with something on Facebook, you can use News Feed Preferences to manage what you see in News Feed. We offer tools like Favorites, which lets you select people and Pages you want to prioritize in your News Feed; an option to organize your News Feed chronologically by using the Most Recent setting; the Feed Filter Bar, a menu at the top of News Feed that makes it easier to switch between your ranked feed, Favorites filter, and Most Recent feed; Snooze to temporarily hide posts from a person, Page or Group; and the ability to unfollow a person, Page or Group so you no longer see posts from them. You can also use Ad Preferences settings to adjust the ads you see on Facebook and even turn off political ads.

In 2019, we also released a tool called Why Am I Seeing This?, which accompanies posts in News Feed. Why Am I Seeing This? gives greater context into how your interactions on Facebook influence what shows up in your Feed and enables you to take action to further personalize what you see by providing easy access to your News Feed Preferences.

To read more about how News Feed works, see these other resources:

How we evaluate and improve our metrics

Facebook conducts a detailed internal review of data shared in our report to validate our metrics, and has established rigorous standards that govern how we identify, correct, and publicly report any adjustments to previously released data. We also conduct a number of periodic checks to verify the accuracy of our data and identify large errors. Currently, the report has not undergone analysis and input from external parties. As with all aspects of our widely viewed content reporting, we will continue to evolve and improve our validity and consistency review processes over time.