Facebook revealed on Thursday that it is conducting a test that would offer users better control over what they see on the site. The test will be available for English-speaking users via Facebook’s app. It incorporates three sub-menus into Facebook’s menu for controlling what appears in the News Feed: friends and family, organizations and pages, and public figures. Users in the test can leave the ratio of such posts in their feed at “normal” or modify it to more or less based on their preferences.
Facebook has changed the way the News Feed displays information multiple times in recent years, and it appears that the company is always evaluating what content should be prioritized and why. It announced in 2015 that it was altering News Feeds to priorities material from close friends above content from companies and publishers. In 2016, Facebook announced that it will modify its algorithm so that postings from friends would take precedence over those from publishers. The business then announced in 2018 that it was modifying the News Feed so that posts that potentially inspire “back and forth debate” (aka engagement, which is Facebook’s bread-and-butter) would display more frequently than more passive material, and in 2020, a few changes, but it also modified the News Feed once more, this time to priorities more reliable and high-quality sources of information. To the anger of some Facebook workers, it turned back the “better looking” variant of the News Feed in December 2020.
Facebook Experimenting With Giving Users Greater Control Over Their News Feed Content
The analytics on Facebook are renowned for favoring incendiary material and hazardous disinformation. Given this, Facebook and its newly renamed parent company Meta are facing increasing regulatory pressure to clean up the site and make its operations clearer. As Congress considers options to give people more control over what they see and dismantle some of the opacity surrounding algorithmic content, Facebook is likely hoping that there is still time to self-regulate. Consumers in the new test will be able to turn down the volume on friends, family, pages, and groups in their News Feeds if they prefer.
In the blog post, Meta stated that this is “part of our continuous work to give users greater choice over News Feed, so they see more of what they want and less of what they don’t.” That’s fantastic! Again! Facebook will also make improvements to its corporate clients’ news controls, including expanding the “subject exclusion” rules to a test group of marketers that run English-language advertisements. Advertisers may choose between three topic groupings — news and politics, social concerns, and crime and tragedy — to avoid having their advertisements display near articles about those themes if they choose.
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