Facebook Alters News Feed Depending on Your Connection

John Lister's picture

Facebook is to tweak the way it selects and displays content in user news feeds. The idea is to make life easier for users on slow, inconsistent, or wireless Internet connections. Part of the changes affect how the content will be shown; for example, users on a slow connection will see more text-based content such as status updates, rather than showing more videos.

There will also be a change affecting how media content is downloaded as a priority. Facebook has already switched to an image format known as Progressive JPEG that displays low quality images first, then gradually downloads into a larger, higher-quality file shortly after. (Source: fb.com)

Change Affects All Wireless Facebook Access

Another change is that mobile devices will download and cache user content, making it available the next time the Facebook app runs. This will happen even if the user has moved to a place with little or no Internet connection.

The system will affect anyone browsing the news feed in the default 'Top Stories' mode, which is where Facebook shows new posts in what it calculates is the order of relevance, rather than strict chronological order.

It will affect any browsing (whether on a computer, phone or tablet) that's on a wireless connection, whether that be WiFi or over a cellphone or mobile broadband network. It won't make any difference to wired connections, even for dial-up users. (Source: techcrunch.com)

Old Style 'See All Posts' Still Possible

The changes won't come as much comfort to users who dislike the idea of Facebook choosing the order of the News Feed and instead want to simply see all the posts in chronological order. There are two main ways of making sure this happens.

One is to manually change settings in Facebook itself. To do this, look for the "News Feed" heading (on the left column if using a PC), then click the down arrow and select "Most Recent", rather than "Top stories." This will work temporarily for about a week until Facebook automatically changes it back to "Top stories" by default.

Another option is to use a third-party browser extension which automatically makes the switch whenever needed, such as the "F.B. Purity" browser extension. As always, we recommend that you read the developer's description, including any user and media reviews carefully before agreeing to install the extension onto your device.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you think these changes will improve your Facebook experience? Is it a good idea for the site to repeatedly refine the order in which it shows posts? Should the "Most Recent" view become the default option again?

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David's picture

I detest the "Top Stores" sort order, especially since it is driven by the erroneous idea that I would choose 'Story A' over 'Story B' (in answer to the "which of these would you rather see" prompts to 'improve' my feed). I want to see ALL of the updates, in chronological order. No complex algorithms necessary. If some friend posts an update, let me see it. If some page I follow posts an update, let me see it (without them having to promote it!). Simple.

derrick.young_5654's picture

Facebook's choice of a single option under "Top Stories" is nothing more than sloppy programming done without thinking about what they are trying to accomplish. No wonder they get so many complaints from people about options that no one wants to use.

first you have a good idea - the "Top Stories" button, then add one screen that allows you to narrow it down in terms of positive aspects that you would like to see repeated. Then add a second screen that allows you to delete those negative aspects you don't want to see repeated. Then add a third confirmation screen to approve the choices.

Keep the screen count low (three - 3) screens - make the choices obvious, and let them confirm them before the leave the like button preferences.

That is simple, direct programming.

Not a genius, just keep it simple and straight forward. 47 Years have taught me that works best.