Facebook's News Feed to be a bit Less Mysterious

John Lister's picture

Facebook is to tell users why a particular post has appeared in their news feed. However, it won't be telling the full story.

One of the most controversial elements of Facebook is its news feed algorithm, which is responsible for showing 'news' from friends when a user logs into Facebook. At one point, this simply consisted of everything the user's friends had posted or shared in chronological order.

This arguably became impractical, as both the number of users and the range of content users could share or otherwise interact with had rocketed. The argument is that the sheer amount of content a user would get in the news feed would be too much to scroll through without becoming weary.

Not All Questions Answered

Instead, Facebook now uses an algorithm to decide the "top posts" and, by default, the news feed appears in this order.

It's fair to say not everyone considers this effective. Some users are frustrated that posts from their friends are buried under other content such as shared links.

Meanwhile, some sources believe Facebook favors "controversial" content, including false or misleading headlines, as this is more likely to get users reacting, sharing and commenting, in turn making advertising more effective.

The new development is a button in a drop-down menu next to each post, which is rolling out to users gradually. The button is marked "Why am I seeing this post?" and will bring up some information about the factors in the algorithm. It's similar to an existing tool that shows why users have been shown a particular paid ad.

Settings Menu Highlighted

Facebook says examples of "What am I seeing this post?" could include whether the user has recently linked to the account making the post, interacted with it, or regularly reads posts from that account. Of course, that becomes self-perpetuating as the more the algorithm shows somebody content from a particular account, the more they'll read it. (Source: independent.co.uk)

However, the button will only reveal a few key details. Facebook won't be revealing full details of how the algorithm works, partly to avoid giving clues about how people could game the system.

The button will also bring up shortcut links to settings pages that let users tweak the algorithm, for example to prioritize showing posts from a particular friend or "unfollowing," meaning to remain Facebook friends with somebody but no longer see posts from them. (Source: fb.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Are you happy with the order posts appear in your Facebook news feed? Would you find it useful to know more about why a particular post appears? Do you switch to the original chronological feed, either by changing Facebook settings or using a browser extension?

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Average: 5 (2 votes)


Kookie's picture

I have complained repeatedly to Facebook feedback regarding this. If I ask for a "most recent" sort, it will not provide that. It will "hop, skip, and jump" between hours, days, etc. Because of that, if I do go on to Facebook, I will stay for about 5 minutes - check out what my friends have posted, and log out. I expect a specific "sort" to work - and it NEVER does on Facebook! If I did not have out-of-state friends, I would just skip it completely.

lgitschlag_3159's picture

Reading my newsfeed takes so long I usually skip it and go cherry pick my notifications instead, it's much faster. Mostly I just skip all that and go directly to a person's page to get caught with them that way. Wish I could prioritize my contacts in tiers of varying importance for my newsfeed.

David's picture

I always wanted to see posts (and comments) in strict chronological order. I never wanted FB to determine what I wanted to see first. I like to think on my own.