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Facebook Lets People Choose What They See First In The News Feed
With update to News Feed user preferences, Facebook gives users more control over which friends and Pages show up on their feeds.
Facebook is giving more power to the people. Today, the social network announced updated controls to let users choose what they see first in their News Feeds.
It’s a significant change for Facebook, which for the most part has depended on its famously complicated algorithm to determine what is displayed in the streams of its 1.44 billion users.
The algorithm isn’t going away, of course, but with today’s move Facebook is giving people more say in what they see — essentially setting up an optional algorithm override. The update is a redesign and expansion of the News Feed preferences feature that was released last November but was so clunky and buried that few people likely used it. In the past few months, Facebook has been testing ways to make the controls more user friendly.
Now people will be able to prioritize the friends and Pages whose posts they want to see first. Such posts will appear on the top of users News Feeds with a star displayed in the upper right-hand corner of the post. After the supply of prioritized posts has been exhausted, the regular News Feed mix will take over.
The update also includes a new interface to show the Pages and friends who have appeared most often in people’s News Feeds over the past week, giving people the opportunity to easily unfollow source who’d they rather not see. There’s also a page that shows, people and Page that a user has recently unfollowed in case someone wants to reverse a decision.
There’s also a new discovery section that gives people the opportunity to find new Pages to follow. That section will be populated with Pages Facebook believes are relevant based on the user’s behavior and what similar people like.
The question marketers are probably asking: will people use these new controls to connect more with brands and businesses? That remains to be seen. Facebook’s News Feed Product Manager Greg Marra told TechCrunch that the changes won’t have much impact for marketers on Facebook.
But there’s at least the potential for businesses and publishers to ask consumers to prioritize their posts. Of course, such opt-in requests made via Facebook post might not be seen by very many people given the low organic reach for Pages. One way around that issue would be to pay Facebook to boost a post asking to be granted top of the News Feed access.
The changes are rolling out on iOS today with Android and desktop expected in the coming weeks.