Facebook makes it easier to turn off algorithmic rankings in your news feed

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Facebook is introducing a handful of new features that gives users more control over their news feed, including an easier way to disable the feed’s algorithmic ranking and display the content in the order it was posted.

The changes build on previous changes to the news feed functionality. Last October, Facebook introduced a “FavoritesTool that allows users to select up to 30 friends and pages, prioritize their content, or display it in a separate feed. The company also allows users to sort their feeds by “most recent, ”But buries these options in obscure menus.

Facebook is now making these ‘Favorites’ and ‘Recent’ filters much more prominent by placing them at the top of the news feed as separate tabs that users can switch between. You can see what that looks like in the screenshots below:

The news feed filter bar allows users to switch between algorithmic, chronological and “favorites” filters.
Image: Facebook

This filter bar is launching globally today on Facebook’s Android app and coming to iOS “ in the coming weeks. ” It is not clear whether it will be available on the web version of Facebook.

But there is one big caveat: the filter bar is none permanent addition to Facebook’s user interface. The company said The edge that the feature disappears if users don’t have access to the Favorites tool for seven days. They will then have to find their favorites from the News Feed preferences menu and the filter bar will return. Likewise, the “most recent” tab will also disappear if it is not opened regularly.

In addition to the filter bar, Facebook is introducing a new tool that allows users to limit who can comment on their posts (this can be limited to friends or just tagged people and pages) and extends the content covered by the ‘Why am I seeing this’ post ?” feature.

The latter tool was introduced last April and allows users to click on posts suggested by Facebook’s algorithms to see why it was recommended to them. This explanation now pertains to suggested posts from pages or people that users use do not track and show how the related topics, interactions, and location of posts led to their being featured.

“Why am I seeing this?” provides more information about why messages were suggested to users.
Image: Facebook

These changes are relatively minor, but generally give people more control over Facebook’s often opaque algorithms. The changes suggest that the world’s largest social network is seeking to avert criticism of choices made by its algorithmic systems. This is not surprising given that the company has repeatedly come under fire for studies showing that these automated systems amplify disinformation and extremist content in an apparent effort to increase user engagement – a metric that determines Facebook’s design choices.

Such criticism has been leveled against the site for years, but has become increasingly acute in recent months as lawmakers and the company’s own Oversight Board consider it. more intrusive regulation of Facebook’s algorithms. With this in mind, it makes sense for the company to give its users the option to opt out of algorithmic sorting.

But as is often the case with Facebook, the company seems reluctant to commit to changes that could undermine its own engagement metrics. If the filter bar disappears after seven days of inactivity, that begs an obvious question: is Facebook really serious about letting users choose what they see on the site, or does it just want to give the appearance of control?