Facebook is going to start penalizing slow webpages

Facebook is going to start penalizing slow web pages in users' News Feeds.

Facebook said it is updating its News Feed in the coming months to show users “more stories that will load quickly on mobile and fewer stories that might take longer to load.”

This means Facebook will take into account the estimated load time of a webpage that a user clicks to from any link in the News Feed on the mobile app, including the person’s current network connection and the general speed of the corresponding page.

“If signals indicate the webpage will load quickly, the link to that webpage might appear higher in your feed,” Facebook said in a blog post.

The platform said it has long taken many factors into account to make sure users quickly see relevant stories, including the type of device they are using and the speed of their mobile networks or WiFi connections.

“For example, if you are on a slower internet connection that won’t load videos, News Feed will show you fewer videos and more status updates and links,” Facebook said. “And to help load stories faster for people on slow or poor network connections, we prefetch stories by downloading mobile content before someone clicks a link, which we’ve seen can shorten load time for webpages by more than 25%.”

The update will “roll out gradually over the coming months.”

Facebook said it is making the change to improve user experience.

“We’ve heard from people that it’s frustrating to click on a link that leads to a slow-loading webpage,” the platform said. “In fact, even more broadly on the internet, we’ve found that when people have to wait for a site to load for too long, they abandon what they were clicking on all together. As many as 40% of website visitors abandon a site after three seconds of delay.”

Facebook said it anticipates most pages will not see significant changes to distribution, but “webpages that are particularly slow could see decreases in referral traffic.”

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