Facebook is using AI to supercharge the algorithm that recommends you videos

Early tests on Reels showed that watch times went up significantly.


Meta is revamping how Facebook recommends videos across Reels, Groups, and the main Facebook Feed, by using AI to power its video recommendation algorithm, Facebook head Tom Alison revealed on Wednesday. The world's largest social network has already switched Reels, its TikTok competitor, to the new engine, and plans to use it in all places within Facebook that show video — the main Facebook feed and Groups — as part of a "technology roadmap" through 2026, Alison said at a Morgan Stanley tech conference in San Francisco.

Meta has made competing with TikTok a top priority ever since the app, which serves up vertical video clips and is known for its powerful recommendation engine that seems to know exactly what will keep users hooked, started exploding in popularity in the US in the last few years. When Facebook tested the new AI-powered recommendation engine with Reels, watch time went up by roughly 8 to 10 percent, Alison revealed. “So what that told us was this new model architecture is learning from the data much more efficiently than the previous generation,” Alison said. “So that was like a good sign that says, OK, we’re on the right track.”

So far, Facebook used different video recommendation engines for Reels, Groups, and the Facebook feed. But after seeing success with Reels, the company plans to use the same AI-powered engine across all these products.

“Instead of just powering Reels, we’re working on a project to power our entire video ecosystem with this single model, and then can we add our Feed recommendation product to also be served by this model,” Alison said. “If we get this right, not only will the recommendations be kind of more engaging and more relevant, but we think the responsiveness of them can improve as well.”

The move is a part of Meta’s strategy to infuse AI into all its products after the technology exploded with the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT at the end of 2022. The company is spending billions of dollars to buy up hundreds of thousands of pricey NVIDIA GPUs used to train and power AI models, Zuckerberg said in a video earlier this year.