Facebook users can now control who comments on public posts

31 Mar 2021

Image: © ros4jesus/Stock.adobe.com

Facebook has introduced a new feature to control who can comment on a post as well as tools to adjust how users see content in their News Feed.

Last year, Twitter began allowing users to control who could reply to tweets. Replies could be open to all Twitters users, as usual, or limited to only accounts the users follows or accounts mentioned in the tweet.

Today (31 March), Facebook has followed suit with the Control What You Share feature. All pages and profiles on Facebook can now control who can comment on their public posts using this tool.

Commenting rules can be set for individual posts before they are shared. The options available can make comments publicly available or limited to the user’s friends, or solely the profiles and pages mentioned in the post. These rules can also be applied generally to all posts via the user’s settings and privacy menu.

Two smartphone screens displaying how Facebook users can set rules as to who can comment on a post.

Image: Facebook

Facebook has also introduced the ability to temporarily switch from the algorithm-generated sequence of posts in the News Feed to a chronological view showing the newest posts first. This setting cannot be made permanent, however, and the News Feed will eventually revert to the default, algorithm-generated version based on various user signals.

Facebook previously introduced the ability to select up to 30 friends or pages as favourites to rank these posts higher in the user’s News Feed. Android users can now filter these posts in a separate view – a feature expected to reach iOS app users soon.

A series of smartphone screens showing how a Facebook user can select their Favourites and filter their News Feed to display only posts from these pages and profiles.

Image: Facebook

Finally, Facebook said it will expand the ‘Why am I seeing this?’ feature, where users can find out why a post from an account they aren’t connected with has appeared in their News Feed. The platform suggests posts to users from other pages and profiles based on factors such as the behaviour of the user as well as friends in their network. Suggested posts can also be generated based on the user’s location or their interest in related topics.

Mobile screens displaying how users can find out more about why a specific post appeared in their Facebook News Feed.

Image: Facebook

“In the long run, people are only going to feel comfortable with these algorithmic systems if they have more visibility into how they work and then have the ability to exercise more informed control over them,” wrote Nick Clegg, Facebook’s VP of global affairs and communication.

In a post addressing ongoing concerns around social media’s influence on polarisation, Clegg added that companies such as Facebook should offer more transparency around the algorithms they use and give users the ability to “talk back to the algorithm and consciously adjust or ignore the predictions it makes”.

Clegg said that further changes to Facebook should be expected over the course of the year.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.