Facebook says that the goal of News Feed is to connect people with the posts they find most relevant. It’s not about the amount of time someone spends on social site, but rather the quality of time spent. That means Facebook must predict what users want to see.
To do this, they study to understand what people are doing on Facebook — what they like, comment on and share. They also use surveys to get more context about the posts people want to see and who they want to see them from. In May, FB announced two ranking updates based on surveys: one gives priority to friends someone might want to hear from most and the other prioritizes links a person might consider most worthwhile.
Historically FB has predicted who people might want to hear from based on signals like how often they interact with a given friend, how many mutual friends they have and whether they mark someone as a close friend.
Now, in addition to tracking these signals, Facebook is asking users to to list the friends they are closest to. Once patterns emerge from the results they will use them to inform the News Feed algorithm with the goal to better predict which friends people may want to hear from most.
This doesn’t mean News Feed will be limited to posts from only certain people and it doesn’t mean you will necessarily see more friend content.
They also know that individuals that are considered close friends today may not be in a year, or even a few months later. The prediction models will continuously update based on the interactions people have with their friends on the app as well as continue to survey people.