No, Facebook isn't limiting you to 25 friends' status updates

The social networking giant's mysterious algorithms are a cornerstone for the latest popular hoax.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
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Visitors of Facebook take a pose in fron

Facebook isn't out to cut you off from your friends, despite the most recent hoax making the rounds.

AFP/Getty Images

Despite what you've heard on Facebook , the social network isn't going to limit status updates in your news feed to 25 preselected friends.

The real news is much scarier: People are falling for a Facebook hoax -- again.

Rumors that Facebook was employing a new algorithm to restrict the number of friends whose content appears in your feed began circulating in December, according to fact-check site Snopes, but they appear to have gathered steam lately, spreading like wildfire across the social network.

The typical message being shared about the evil, friend-isolating algorithm goes something like this:

The new algorithm controlling Facebook's news feed now shows only posts from the same few people, about 25. Their system chooses the people to read your posts, but I would like to choose for myself. Therefore, I ask you a favor: please, right now...Leave me a quick comment, a 'hello,' a sticker, whatever you want - don't just 'like' - post something - so you will appear in my news feed. I have some interesting news coming and want to make sure it reaches you.

Facebook dismissed the algorithm memes as pure fiction.

"Friends don't let friends copy and paste memes, and this one simply is not true," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "We rank News Feed based on how relevant each post might be to you, and while we've made some updates that could increase the number of posts you see from your friends, your News Feed isn't limited to 25 of them."

Facebook has been under intense scrutiny as it grapples with its scale and influence. Its almighty algorithms have the power to decide what people see online, but they are still a mystery to the majority of Facebook's 2 billion monthly users.

The hoax may have been boosted by confusion over changes the social network announced in January. CEO Mark Zuckerberg shocked many by saying Facebook would overhaul the news feed to prioritize posts from family and friends, as opposed to those from brands and publishers.

It also comes as Facebook has been stung by a barrage of criticism that sham articles circulated on the social network affected the outcome of the 2016 US election. A number of bogus articles made the rounds in the weeks and months leading up to the election, including made-up stories like President Barack Obama banning the playing of the national anthem at US sporting events, and an FBI agent tied to the Hillary Clinton email scandal being found dead.

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Facebook has been a frequent target of hoaxes itself, typically on privacy-related matters. One of the more popular was the news feed recitation of the Uniform Commercial Code to prohibit Facebook from using their photos, content or personal information without users' permission.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. PT: with Facebook comment.

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