Summary of Who Controls Your Facebook Feed

A small team of engineers in Menlo Park. A panel of anonymous power users around the world. And, increasingly, you.


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Who Controls Your Facebook Feed summary
The algorithm in charge of Facebook’s news feed learns its biggest lessons from humans.


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Cute kittens, high school friends’ wedding photos, inspirational quotes and political endorsements are just a few of the things that may – or may not – pop up on your Facebook news feed if you’re one of the site’s billion-plus users. But how does it all get there? And what happens to the stuff that doesn’t make the cut? Slate’s senior technology writer Will Oremus takes you on a journey through Facebook’s Menlo Park campus, where machines learn their most valuable lessons from – who would have guessed it? – humans. So if you’re curious about why you seem to see so many photos of your great-aunt Dottie’s new puppy on Facebook, getAbstract recommends reading this useful explanation of the inner workings of the site’s news feed.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How Facebook’s news feed works,
  • What limitations machine learning must overcome and
  • How Facebook leverages human feedback to improve its “prediction algorithm.”


If you’re on Facebook, the site’s closely guarded algorithm ranks anywhere between 1,500 and 10,000 posts every day to prioritize the ones it thinks you’ll care about. In 2013, Facebook passed the one-billion-user mark, making it the “global newspaper of the 21st century.”

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About the Author

Will Oremus is a senior technology writer at Slate. He writes on technology policy, emerging tech and digital culture.

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