Facebook is working to take down a bug that allows users on the mobile version of its website to see the view counts of their own posts, as well as for the posts of others in the social network.
The bug allows users to see how many times an article or video link has been viewed, similar to how the social network now shows the view count for videos posted on Facebook.
The discovered bug only affects the mobile website of Facebook, and is not present on the desktop version of the website nor on the mobile apps of the social network. The bug has been confirmed by Facebook to news website The Verge, adding that it is currently fixing the issue. Users that are looking to see the bug should log on to mobile versions of Facebook right away, as the fixes should already be starting to take effect.
The view counts are shown only under links shared or posted by users, and sometimes also underneath posted images. It is not clear if the numbers are entirely true though, with The Verge providing an example of a Doritos-related article gaining almost 4 million views compared to a post by Facebook on global Internet access gaining only 75,000 views. The disparity could be explained if the view count is the total number of views accrued by the link across the whole social network.
Facebook is not planning to let users know the view counts of posts. By using the social network, users accept that the content that they upload and share are going into a feed that is controlled by algorithms that users have no control over and will probably never understand.
A study conducted in 2013 by Stanford University assistant professor Michael Bernstein and the data science team of Facebook showed that on average, users are only able to reach around 35 percent of their friends for their posts. Over a month, users on average will only reach almost only two out of every three friends.
This is the issue that is challenging page owners such as media organizations and businesses on Facebook, as while investments have been going in to increase the number of likes for pages, the page could only be reaching a fraction of the intended audience.
The bug on Facebook's mobile website reveals just how far user posts are reaching, which is a piece of information that Facebook does not want users to know as it maintains control over what does and does not show up in News Feeds.