According to Facebook, in the last quarter, people most widely viewed posts from President Biden, videos from 5-Minute Crafts, and arguments about whether you should put sugar on spaghetti. Several recent reports have suggested that some of the platform’s top posts come from right-wing sources, which critics fear could have radicalizing effects on its users. Facebook’s report comes as a response to those reports.
This report is geared toward showing users what is actually being seen on Facebook rather than what content is receiving the most interaction, and Facebook plans to build these reports on a quarterly basis in the future. However, the report presents a picture that is incomplete, as Facebook admits.
According to Wednesday‘s report, Facebook’s US viewers viewed public News Feed content between early April and the end of June. In addition to showing the top 20 domains, links, pages, and posts by views, it also contains information on the top 20 domains and their links. A companion guide describes how Facebook gathered and analyzed the data for the report.
Users are invited to pick out the first three words they see in a letter scramble, according to the report. A post asking users over 30 to post a photo of themselves looking young was the second most-viewed. This link will take you to Facebook’s full list of posts, along with screenshots and links.
According to the Facebook lists, it’s pretty mundane stuff. YouTube, UNICEF, Spotify, and CBS News are among the most-viewed domains (as opposed to specific links) while the most-viewed pages are “Woof Woof” and “Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons”.
There was a GIF of kittens ranked seventh, and a page that UNICEF created about the cholera crisis in India rated third most viewed link.
It may seem surprising or suspect to some. Facebook’s internal tools have shown right-wing content captured the most interaction from users, and the company is well aware of this perception, according to reports.
The New York Times published a story in July about how data published by journalists led to a debate within Facebook about whether it should be as open as possible about what its users interact with, or whether limiting access to that data made it look good. Transparency and image management clashed, as the Times noted.
Facebook denied this characterization at the time and continues to deny it now. Facebook’s integrity VP, Guy Rosen, said that the narrative that emerged is “quite simply wrong” on a conference call with journalists. Data will be released to provide an “accurate representation” of Facebook content, he said.
Despite the report’s contents being interesting, they’re not entirely representative of what Facebook users actually see. According to Facebook’s report, the top posts accounted for less than 0.1 percent of the content viewed by its US users. Likewise, the domains accounted for 1.9 percent of US news feed views, but similar percentages are reported for the top 20 links.
All of this points to the fact that, while the Facebook report is interesting to look over, it’s important to keep an eye on what the report is and what it doesn’t cover. This report focuses solely on what users see on Facebook rather than what they interact with.
Facebook has made clear that there’s a difference between what people see on Facebook and what they interact with. One can argue, though, that what people interact with is actually what has the most impact on them – you’ll remember what you comment on in more detail than what you scroll past. Moreover, the report only shows a small portion of News Feed views – seeing as Facebook’s users get a customized news feed, Facebook can only summarize so much, which leaves out plenty of information.