Facebook is in a never-ending quest to derive more value from its News Feed product, and just as it has tweaked its algorithms to refine news posts and communications from brands, it is now exploring how to make personal sharing from third-party apps more valuable to users. In a blog post Wednesday, releas, the company announced that it will be curbing the visibility of “implicitly” shared posts — automatic posts from apps like RunKeeper or Spotify — in favor of “explicitly” shared posts. Users were increasingly marking automatic posts as spam, according to Facebook.
“Over the past year, the number of implicitly shared stories in News Feed has naturally declined,” Facebook’s Peter Yang wrote in a related blog post for developers. “This decline is correlated with how often people mark app posts as spam, which dropped by 75 percent over the same period.”
While Facebook is killing off these implicit posts on the News Feed, developers can request the ability to allow explicit sharing. Instead of allowing for blanket posting to News Feeds when users connect with an app, developers can include a Facebook button. The new posts have an extensive list of rules that developers must follow, including a laundry list of things they cannot do:
- Publish when people install or join an app
- Correspond to looking at, viewing, browsing, or discovering content.
- Misrepresent people’s in-app actions and confuse users
- Publish multiple times for one in-app action
- Fail to make contextual and grammatical sense
- Use complex actions and verbs
- Copy Facebook branding, functionality, or interface elements
It’s easy to look at these changes as a failure for the Open Graph, which was designed to be a seamless and simple way for users to share by using the apps that they’re already interacting with daily (it’s important to note that Facebook is still collecting the related Graph data from these apps — that information just won’t be immediately visible to users, who will instead see it in places like Timeline Collections and recent activity). However, by eliminating these automatic posts, Facebook has an opportunity to better define and regulate the kind of information users share. It’s clear that the company has no interest in winding down activity sharing in general — its recent release of audio detection for movie, music and TV check-ins as well as its test of user activity cards show that the company has a lot invested in helping users share their daily activities on Facebook.
By cutting off firehose access to automatic posting for third-party developers, though, Facebook can not only help its users cut the noise on their own experiences, but also prioritize richer, intentional activity, location and emotion-based check-ins from friends. In turn, users will be more likely to interact with and comment on those posts, making them much more valuable than a simple post about a run or a song. Facebook’s ideal Open Graph experience isn’t going anywhere anytime soon — if anything, it’s about to get smarter and more usable in the future.