If you're one of those people who spends too much time thinking about how Facebook affects your business, then you are going to want to read about this fantastic stunt pulled by Wired's Mat Honan.
My News Feed took on an entirely new character in a surprisingly short amount of time. After checking in and liking a bunch of stuff over the course of an hour, there were no human beings in my feed anymore. It became about brands and messaging, rather than humans with messages.
Likewise, content mills rose to the top. Nearly my entire feed was given over to Upworthy and the Huffington Post. As I went to bed that first night and scrolled through my News Feed, the updates I saw were (in order): Huffington Post, Upworthy, Huffington Post, Upworthy, a Levi's ad, Space.com, Huffington Post, Upworthy, The Verge, Huffington Post, Space.com, Upworthy, Space.com.
The brand takeover was less total on Mr. Honan's desktop, however, than on his mobile News Feed:
On that little bitty screen, where real-estate is so valuable, Facebook's robots decided that the way to keep my attention is by hiding the people and only showing me the stuff that other machines have pumped out. Weird.
The results of Mr. Honan's experiment say a lot about what Facebook thinks of the different kinds of content it serves, and also about what Facebook thinks of the content created and shared by our real life friends. Maybe only a handful of its users really respond to ads, or to content created by outlets like HuffPo and Buzzworthy, and they want to foist as much of that stuff onto those people as possible. Maybe the biggest likers among us are the most suggestible, and Facebook is happy to take advantage. Or maybe its algorithm just wasn't built to handle a stunt like this one.
No matter the case, Mr. Honan's full story is thoroughly likable. Check it out here.