Facebook is famous for tweaking its social site in a constant attempt to personalize the content. Some changes have caused outright anger. Others go almost entirely unnoticed.
The latter is the case with a tweak Facebook made in February. Combined with a series of adjustments to the site, Facebook instituted a new way to filter the NewsFeed. Users would only see updates from people they most often interacted with. Though Facebook wouldn’t comment on what it means by interaction, it likely counts which links you click on, which statuses you like and which profiles you most often visit.
The change went largely unnoticed, until recently, when people suddenly started to realize their Newsfeeds seemed slimmed down.
A note on Facebook started being passed from one status update to another: “Facebook has changed its NewsFeed again, so that by default, you can only see updates from people with whom you’ve recently interacted....Most Importantly... Re-Post this. Otherwise, only a few of your friends will actually see your posts.”
While the status has the right news — that the feeds have changed — it has the wrong directions. It instructs folks to go to the wrong spot on Facebook to select all friends, resurfacing the usual complaints about Facebook’s complicated user instructions. The correct way to make the change: go to the bottom of the NewsFeed and hit “edit options.” Change “show posts from” to all friends.
(Update: A BlogPost reader says that this way doesn’t actually work for him. When he goes to the bottom of his NewsFeed, older posts are loaded. He offers up this solution: “On my FB homepage, to make the change, I needed to go to the top of the page, click ‘Most Recent’ and then ‘Edit Options.’”)
When I updated my newsfeed my page suddenly went from full of work colleagues, whose links I often click on, to updates from the people I use Facebook to find: those not often in my life, but whose lives I like to keep up with remotely.
It’s interesting that Facebook felt the need to institute their own filter system, despite the many options of creating lists and hiding people from NewsFeeds.
It’s a stark reminder of Eli Pariser’s Filter Bubble idea: that tech companies are trying to make decisions about what each person wants to see based on an internal logic. According to Pariser, the algorithims only bring back information that we’re comfortable with — information junk food — and leaves out the challenging differences.
Status updates from farflung friends never seemed to matter much until they disappeared.