Facebook tweaks News Feed controls again

9 Jul 2015

Facebook has today announced new updates to its News Feed preferences, purportedly making it easier for users to control what they do and don’t see in their feeds.

The major change will place users’ favoured friends and Pages — manually chosen by the user, rather than by Facebook’s equal-parts lauded and despised algorithms — at the top of the News Feed, the rest of which will then unfold “normally” (i.e., using default settings).

In today’s announcement, Jacob Frantz, a product manager for the social media giant, said: “We know that ultimately you’re the only one who truly knows what is most meaningful to you, and that is why we want to give you more ways to control what you see.”

That’s all well and good, but the new controls are just another way to limit what you see, not expand it. This update shows a continued emphasis on so-called ‘Top Stories’.

Facebook acknowledges this, albeit inadvertently, stating in the release: “[At Facebook] we use ranking to order stories based on how interesting we believe they are to you: specifically, whom you tend to interact with, and what kinds of content you tend to like and comment on”.

So those controls the company is touting still won’t cater to those who want to see absolutely everything, as and when it’s posted.

Also announced today, however, are a host of nice new features that should make using Facebook a little easier and a little more pleasant. Unfollowing people — and refollowing them later — has been simplified, and a new feature for discovering Pages has been added.

‘Discover New Pages’ will likely be the most interesting change. Following on from the recent Instagram update that broadened the app’s search and discover features, Facebook will now also make suggestions to you based on Pages you’ve liked in the past. This could feasibly lead to a better user experience, guiding people out of the rut of their tried-and-tested ‘likes’, but not so far that they become uncomfortable.

Facebook’s updated News Feed preferences will be available on iOS from today, and will be rolled out on Android and desktop over the coming week.

Newspaper image, via Shutterstock


Kirsty Tobin was careers editor at Silicon Republic