In an ironic effort to prevent wasting the time of users, Facebook is going to start ranking posts with links to slow-loading websites further down in users' news feeds. As a society, impatience with the internet and page loading times has grown tremendously from the days of dial-up. According to Facebook, a three second delay during loading can cause up to 40% of visitors to close the page and look for something else instead.
A spokesperson stated Facebook's end goal is to "show people more stories that will load quickly on mobile and fewer stories that might take longer to load." Focusing on mobile is considered a high priority for all industries as more consumers are relying on smartphones or tablets than ever before.
The exact formula used to provide News Feed is a closely guarded mystery, but plenty of factors that are used in displaying content have been publicized. Metrics such as internet speed and connection type, device screen size and resolution, and users' interests on Facebook are all factored in to what content is ranked higher in News Feed.
Facebook page owners and administrators should not be negatively affected by this new ranking system update. Distribution of on-site material is likely to load faster than external links and will therefore keep pages at their current News Feed positions. Whether content hosted by Facebook is intentionally favored over external material is unknown.
The new feature is expected to have an ongoing roll out to users over the next several months. No blatantly obvious changes to News Feed content is to be expected, although a cutback in the number of referral links may be a potentially welcomed improvement.