Facebook’s new feature: your top 7 friends

Facebook is asking me to redefine my closest 7 friends.

I logged into Facebook today to see this new feature, starring your friends. Below this text is a Google circles like UI that asks me to star friends whose updates are particularly important to me.

"facebooktop7"

With hundreds of friends, the average Facebook user logs in to see wall of updates that aren’t quite relevant. Some of us have reduced our friend graphs and unfriended contacts in order to return the feed to relevance, which isn’t a desired user behavior. Facebook, after all, wants to encourage expansive graphs.

The challenge that feeds everywhere face is the local minimum problem. Machine learning algorithms like EdgeRank can easily fall into local minimums, where the same people appear on the feed because they’ve been appearing on the feed. The people in the feed become stale and either the model has to be rebuilt or a strong signal must be injected into the algorithm to change results.

This beta feature might indicate Facebook is looking for another strong signal of friend-closeness, to recenter the feed on the people a user most cares about and return relevance to the feed.

Or it might indicate a push to build new features around a top 7 friend list.

Published 2012-06-19 in


Tomasz Tunguz is partner at Redpoint. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 20,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.


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