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A List of Facebook’s Recent Algorithm Changes

James Parsons • Updated on May 22, 2023
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Facebook Algorithm

To some marketers, Facebook is almost as important as Google. Nothing quite scratches the big G’s golden throne, but a lesser, slightly smaller silver throne is perfectly fine for another one of the largest corporations in the world.

When Google makes an algorithm change, they announce it months in advance and let webmasters do what they can to minimize the damage it might cause. When Facebook makes an update, sometimes they announce it, sometimes they don’t. Then again, a lot of Facebook’s changes aren’t dramatically important to many page owners. After all, how negatively will you be affected when Facebook demotes hoax links? Probably nothing at all will happen.

That’s the key to understanding Facebook updates. A majority of them are geared towards making the news feed better for individual users. They hardly have an effect on brands. Of course, some are quite the opposite, dramatically affecting brands, so you need to stay ahead of them.

For future reference, once this document falls out of date, you can check Facebook’s newsroom for posts about the most recent events and updates.

April 2015 – Friends Given Priority

April 2015 Facebook Update

This update was announced April 21 and affects businesses in a negative way. Facebook listened to feedback from users and made a few changes.

The first change affects virtually no one. For personal accounts that have very few friends and followed pages, Facebook formerly would just run out of content to display, even if those friends had posted more often. With this change, Facebook will show more posts for those low-connection users.

The second and more important change is increasing the priority of friend posts over brand posts. Feedback indicated that personal users didn’t like missing messages from their friends, particularly when brand posts and ads filled their feeds. Facebook, thus, demotes brand posts and promotes friend posts.

The third change is the demotion or removal, depending on scale, of news feed stories where a friend sees that their friend commented on a post. These were largely uninteresting, because Facebook wouldn’t point out the precise comment, and sometimes wouldn’t allow you to interact with the post your friend commented on. This hurts brands because the “friend liked this post” notification is the core of viral reach.

January 2015 – Demoting Hoaxes

Demoting Hoaxes Facebook Update

Hoax posts typically found it very easy to go viral, primarily because people tend to believe things from their friends and don’t use common sense or fact check. Hoaxes include posts like “X has died” to perpetuate a celebrity death hoax, as well as various “like and share this post to win X expensive item,” typically a car, expensive apparel, or other items of high value.

Of course, Facebook doesn’t have a common sense algorithm. It has to determine that a post is false based on reports from users. This makes the “report post” feature a little more powerful, as users can report a post as false and help cease its circulation.

The only brands that could potentially be affected by this change are satire brands like the Onion, though Facebook found that when the post was clearly satire or comedy, the post wasn’t reported. Only when the post was a scam or potentially malicious did users report it.

January 2015 – Promotional Posts Demoted

Promotional Posts Demoted

This update is one of the most major changes in the last year, and as such it was actually announced in mid November of 2014.

Most of the reason this update made as big a stir as it did was the misunderstanding of what it meant. Too many reporters took the title and ran with it, without reading the greater context of the post.

Facebook is demoting overly promotional posts, which directly affects and hurts brands that make such posts. This is true. The context, however, is what they consider an overly promotional post. Specifically, they are demoting any post that exists solely to push an app or a product sale, any post that pushes a sweepstakes or promotion without context, and any post that reuses the same content from your ads. You can see examples of each in the link above.

September 2014 – A Boost to Trending Topics

Timely Stories Update

In this update, Facebook realized that people like to see trending topics, particularly the things their friends had to say about those topics. To promote this, Facebook began to promote trending content, including posts about trends made by brands.

This is a good opportunity for brands to adjust their posting strategy to include current events and trending stories on a day to day basis. Capitalize on knowing global trends by posting about them, and you’ll see a wider reach and a higher position in the news feed.

To tie in with this, Facebook has begun to take into account how recent likes and comments are on a post, in order to promote them properly. A post that gains likes immediately but tapers off after a few hours will see less impact from a future burst of likes. Meanwhile, a post that grows more engaged and more relevant by the hour will see more benefit from the ongoing engagement.

August 2014 – Stop Using Clickbait, Seriously


For quite a while, Facebook has been slowly demoting the relevance of clickbait headlines, the kind that made sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed as prominent as they are. Facebook found that users often marked such headlines as spam or as content they didn’t want to see. As such, articles with common clickbait titles – “You won’t BELIEVE what happens next!” – end up demoted.

The primary takeaway for this update is to make sure your post details what’s in the link. Users want to know if it’s worth watching, and clickbait specifically leaves out the information you need to make that conclusion. Initially, this got people to click through to see. These days, they don’t bother, and the news feed changes reflect that.

There you have it; a look at the past updates that affect pages for nearly a year. Anything older than this is old news; anything newer hasn’t happened yet. Be sure to check back later for posts from us about new updates and trends you need to watch.


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