Facebook insists you don't care how many people saw your posts

A News Feed engineer claims that the social network tested a feature for showing users how many people viewed their posts, but abandoned it because of lack of interest.

Jennifer Van Grove Former Senior Writer / News
Jennifer Van Grove covered the social beat for CNET. She loves Boo the dog, CrossFit, and eating vegan. Her jokes are often in poor taste, but her articles are not.
Jennifer Van Grove
2 min read
Matt Harnack/Facebook

Do you really care how many people actually saw your Facebook posts? The answer is no, says Facebook engineer Lars Backstrom, who insists that a majority of the company's social networkers just want to know who "liked" their updates.

Backstrom, who works on Facebook's News Feed, made the general assertion in response to a critical BuzzFeed article. The story claims that Facebook intentionally keeps the number of people who view your status updates a secret because the company doesn't want you privy to the sad knowledge that a ton of friends saw your lunch photo and decided to ignore it.

"The main premise of the article -- that everyone wants to know how many friends see each of their posts and Facebook doesn't want to tell them -- is just plain wrong," Backstrom wrote in a Facebook update. "A few of us did build and test a feature like this internally. Our conclusion after testing it: people are way more interested in seeing *who* liked their posts, rather than just the number of people who saw it."

Backstrom supported his contention by saying that Facebook doesn't receive requests to implement such a feature. "Virtually no one has asked to see this information."

Facebook does, however, show advertisers, Page owners, and group members how many people viewed their posts, because these audiences, unlike regular users, care about the stats, he added.

Backstrom's missive also defends Facebook's controversial approach to ranking and featuring content in the News Feed, a rather mysterious process the company maintains is designed to highlight the most interesting stories.