Facebook is trying out a new feature this week which supposedly helps you figure out what is "relevant and interesting" among what your friends are posting on their Facebook feeds.
And how, praytell, is Facebook evaluating your friends' discussions and deciding what is "relevant and interesting," you might be wondering.
Bascially, for this feature, Facebook is treating all of the names of all of its pages like tags. Have you noticed that there is a Facebook page for just about anything you can think of? Even if that page is simply a link to Wikipedia? Well, there's a method to their madness...bwahahahaha!
Now, whenever your friends mention the name of one of these pages in their Facebook updates (they don't actually have to tag the page, and they may not even be aware that there is a page on Facebook by that name), Facebook has a mysterious algorithm that tallies these mentions, and if several of your friends use these same tags (i.e. keywords) in their posts, you will see a notation on your "top news" feed which says something like, "Friend A and 41 other friends posted about Topic B," followed by copies of those friends updates.
So how does this benefit you? I suppose if there is some sort of breaking news important in your circle of friends, you'll know about it immediately when you log in to Facebook. But other than that, this is more beneficial to Facebook than it is to the users. This is a relatively non-invasive way for Facebook to mass-index its content in a manner similar to the methods used by Google and Twitter.
Look for a "trending topics," type section soon on the Front page of Facebook, or possibly in your sidebar. Can you imagine how excited Facebook's advertisers must be about having access to this information? All they will have to do is quickly scan the most popular topics on Facebook, and immediately re-key their ads to incorporate those key words in their advertising to make their ads show up on more people's feeds.
Brilliant, yes. Annoying, yes. But what are we going to do? If we want to enjoy having a site like Facebook for free, we need to realize that we are not their paying customer. Their advertisers are.
Of course there is also the chance that Facebook could use this feature to screen certain topics and quickly locate and remove users that do not enhance its image to potential advertisers. But we all know Facebook would never do that, right?