Facebook made a pretty big announcement Thursday, saying it will now allow users much greater control over what appears in their News Feeds. The change comes after several attempts by the social network to organize the feed by using algorithms that took into account what you liked, what you clicked on and what you read — all resulting in imperfect curation at best.
For those ready to take the reins of their own News Feed, here's how to do it.
Where to find the new settings: First things first: You have to find the new menu that Facebook has put on its network to control your news feed. There is good news and bad news here. If you're an iPhone/iOS user, then you should have the new menu once you've updated your app. If you're not? Well, the changes are coming, just not today. Facebook said in its announcement that the changes will hit Android and the Web version of its site in the coming weeks.
For the Apple users, the menu still requires a little work to find. You have to head to the "More" section of your app. You'll find it in the bottom bar of the app, at the far right. Scroll down the menu until you find "News Feed Preferences." Tap to bring up the new menu.
It has four sections, as outlined in this video:
Section by section, this is what you will have to do.
Prioritize whom to see first: There are a few things you can customize in the new menu, starting with telling Facebook which friends of yours should always be at the top of your news feed. Facebook calls this the "See First" crowd. The menu makes suggestions about whom you'd probably like to see most. In my case, the suggestions were pretty good: my husband, my sister, my closest relatives and friends. Tap on the people you want to rise to the top, and Facebook will take your preferences into account.
If the app doesn't suggest a person you do want to include, you can add a friend or group to your "See First" crowd from their profile page, as well. Just tap the "Following" icon on the page and a menu should pop up that gives you the option.
Unfollow people to hide their posts: The next step gives you a chance to unfollow people whose posts may have been making you avoid the news feed. Maybe you have an old friend who posts just a little too often, or maybe you have a friend whose political opinions you'd rather not see. Whatever the reason, this is the time for you to quietly remove them from your News Feed without having to take the drastic step of un-friending them altogether. Your options are laid out in the same way as the "See First" crowd, though tapping on people in this menu will have the opposite effect.
You can also choose to unfollow people from their Facebook profiles, if you don't see their names in this section.
Reconnect with people you unfollowed: Facebook also gives you the chance to "Reconnect with people you unfollowed" if you're in a forgiving mood. Maybe you miss those frequent posts or the liberal/conservative viewpoint you couldn't stand to read during the last election and forgot you blocked. (Though, if that's the case, this may not be the best time to reconnect.) Whatever the case, this is the place to reestablish those connections and re-follow those updates.
Discover new Pages: This section is more or less a way for Facebook users to find the more professional pages on the site — those run by brands, celebrities or other public figures. If my suggestions are any indication, Facebook looks at the pages you like to offer up pages you might want to follow. Just remember that adding a bunch of non-people friends on Facebook is likely to skew your News Feed a bit more toward articles and branded content. If you want to use Facebook as a way to get news and information rather than just personal updates, that's a good thing. If you want to use it mostly for updates from friends, it's probably best to go easy in this section.