Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has announced that it is experimenting with new ways for users to tailor the material they see in their News Feeds. The test, which will be available to a “small percentage” of users at first, will allow people to adjust their preferences to increase or decrease the amount of content they see from specific friends, family, groups, and pages they’re connected with on the platform, the company said in a blog post Thursday.
Facebook has changed the way the News Feed displays information multiple times in recent years, and it appears that the company is still debating what content should be prioritised and why. It said in 2015 that it would alter News Feeds to prioritise information from close friends over those from companies and publishers. In 2016, Facebook announced that its algorithm would be tweaked so that postings from friends would take precedence over those from publishers. The business then announced in 2018 that it was altering the News Feed so that posts that potentially stimulate “back and forth debate” (aka engagement, which is Facebook’s bread-and-butter) would display more frequently than more passive content.
What did Facebook do in 2020? It changed a few things, but it also altered the News Feed once more, this time to prioritise more reliable and high-quality news sources. To the anger of some Facebook employees, it rolled back the “nicer” version of the News Feed in December 2020.
How the social media giant manages its News Feed has remained a mystery, but in September, Facebook produced a report that claimed to reveal how it selects what information it suppresses, or “demotes,” such as clickbait and postings from people who consistently break its rules.
However, users in the new test will be able to lower the volume in their News Feeds for friends, family, sites, and groups if they want. “This is part of our continuous work to give users greater choice over News Feed, so they see more of what they want and less of what they don’t,” Meta wrote in the blog post. That’s fantastic! Again!
Facebook is also making improvements to its corporate clients’ news controls, including extending “subject exclusion” rules to a test group of marketers that run advertisements in English. Advertisers can choose from three topic groupings — news and politics, social issues, and crime and tragedy — to ensure that their ads do not display near articles about those themes.