Facebook is introducing a bunch of new features that will give users greater control over their news feed, including an easier way to turn off computational ranking and display content in the order it was published instead of according to the verge.
The changes are based on previous adjustments to the latest news function. Last October, Facebook introduced a favourites tool that allows users to select up to thirty friends and pages, and prioritize their content or display them in a separate feed. The company also offers users the option to sort their feeds by most recent but hides these options in obscure lists.
And Facebook is making these Favorite and Recent filters more prominent, placing them directly at the top of the news feed as separate tabs that users can switch between.
This filter bar is launching globally on the Facebook app on Android and will be available on iOS in the coming weeks, but it is not clear if it will be available on the web version of Facebook. The filter bar will disappear if you don't use it regularly, but there's a big caveat: Filter bar isn't a permanent addition to Facebook's UI.
According to The Verge, the feature will disappear if users do not access the Favorites tool for seven days. They will then have to find their favourites through the news feed's preferences menu and the filter bar will return, and likewise, the most recent tab will also disappear if it is not accessed regularly.
In addition to the filter bar, Facebook offers a new tool that allows users to specify who can comment on their posts (this can be restricted to friends or just to tag people and pages) and expand the content covered by Why do I see this?
This latest tool was introduced last April and allows users to click on posts suggested by Facebook's algorithms to see why they were recommended to them. These explanations will now cover suggested posts from pages or people that users don't follow, showing how topics related to the posts, interactions, and site led to their suggestion.
These changes are relatively minor, but overall they give people more control over Facebook's often opaque algorithms. The changes indicate that the world's largest social network is keen on the choices its algorithmic systems make. This is not surprising given that the company has repeatedly come under fire for studies showing that these automated systems amplify misinformation and extremist content in an apparent attempt to increase user engagement - a metric that governs Facebook's design options.
Criticism like this has been levelled against the site for years but has become increasingly acute in recent months as lawmakers and the company's oversight board consider a more intrusive regulation of Facebook's algorithms.
With this in mind, it only makes sense that the company would give its users the ability to opt-out of algorithmic sorting altogether.
But as is often the case with Facebook, the company appears reluctant to commit to changes that could undermine its engagement stats.If the filter bar disappears after seven days of inactivity, it calls for an obvious question: Is Facebook really serious about letting users choose what they see. On the site, or does he just want to give the look of control?