Thursday April 1, 2021 By David Quintanilla
Facebook Adds ‘Feed Filter Bar’ News Feed Control Tool, New Options to Restrict Post Comments

After testing the choice out for more than a year, Fb has immediately officially launched its new Information Feed Filter Bar choice, which makes it simpler for customers to change between the common Information Feed, ranked by Fb’s infamous algorithm, and both a ‘Favorites’ or ‘Current’ itemizing of posts, the latter being type of like a reverse-chronological feed.

Facebook News Feed ranking options

Form of. As you possibly can see in these screenshots, the primary focus of Fb’s replace is its Favorites choice, which it first launched for some customers back in October. Favorites lets you choose as much as 30 associates and Pages to incorporate in your precedence itemizing, with the posts from people who you select then highlighted with a badge, and showing larger in your common Information Feed.

And with these elective Feed listings, now you can view your Favorites itemizing as a separate, particular person feed, which is able to give customers extra management over their Fb expertise.

Facebook Feed options

You possibly can see on this instance the three alternate feed choices on the high of your Information Feed:

  • Residence – Being your common Fb Information Feed, ranked by the algorithm
  • Favorites – The separate itemizing of your hand-picked folks and Pages
  • Current – Which is theoretically an choice to see all your posts in reverse chronological order – the much-requested return to the algorithm-free Fb feed.

Faucet on the management icon to the fitting of those choices and you will be proven this pop-up of further controls.

Facebook News Feed controls

So it is the identical, choices, however you may as well entry your Information Feed preferences, which presents extra controls over your feed.

Once more, type of.

The factor is, none of those controls is technically new. As famous, Favorites has been round since final October, and you have lengthy been in a position to decide on ‘See first’ on people and Pages for your feed, which is de facto the identical factor. And whereas it looks as if a simple technique to swap to a reverse-chronological feed, the ‘Current’ itemizing remains to be outlined by the algorithm, it is simply that reasonably than seeing the posts Fb has chosen for you, within the order that it decides, you possibly can checklist them by add date.

So it isn’t full management of your feed as such, but it surely does give customers extra choices. And perhaps extra importantly for Fb, it does provide the notion of extra management over your feed, inside straightforward attain, at any time.

That might be sufficient to quell at the very least a few of the ongoing debates round how Fb’s algorithm manipulates engagement – which is the main target of a separate new essay from the company’s VP of Global Affairs and Communication Nick Clegg, which fits into element about how Fb’s actually to not blame for societal division and angst, and the way there is no particular proof to counsel that Fb is any extra polarizing than anything.

As per Clegg:

Maybe it’s time to acknowledge it’s not merely the fault of faceless machines? Take into account, for instance, the presence of dangerous and polarizing content material on personal messaging apps – iMessage, Sign, Telegram, WhatsApp – utilized by billions of individuals around the globe. None of these apps deploy content material or rating algorithms. It’s simply people speaking to people with none machine getting in the way in which.”

There’s so much to discover round Fb’s perspective on such inside this put up, an excessive amount of to enter right here, however the essence is that, in Fb’s view, it is working to offer extra management to customers by way of instruments like this, as a result of it isn’t, as many have steered, in Fb’s pursuits to point out essentially the most divisive, sensational content material to customers, so as to spark engagement. 

The linkages listed here are pretty tenuous – within the instance above, as an illustration, the truth that folks share divisive content material inside messaging apps does not imply that hasn’t first been influenced by Fb’s algorithm in exhibiting customers that content material of their Information Feed earlier than distributing. However Clegg’s primary premise is that it isn’t Fb’s intention to make its platform extra sticky by exhibiting extra emotionally charged content material, and that these new controls, together with numerous different modifications Fb has rolled out in current occasions, underline that.

The way you view that sentiment will largely come down to non-public notion. Clegg is right in noting that educational analysis is assorted, however there may be positively proof to counsel that Fb has fueled societal divides. However the Clegg’s closing rivalry additionally lies in the truth that folks make the selection about the place and the way they work together. That is additionally true, however once more, there’s extra complexity to it than merely placing it again on customers and their private selection in such. 

Apart from the brand new feed controls, Fb can also be giving customers a brand new choice to regulate who can touch upon their posts, with a view to limiting undesirable interactions within the app. 

Facebook comment controls

The choice is just like the reply controls that Twitter launched back in August, which offer extra capability for protecting your conversations restricted to these you care about.

As defined by Facebook:

By adjusting your commenting viewers, you possibly can additional management the way you need to invite dialog onto your public posts and restrict probably undesirable interactions. And should you’re a public determine, creator or model, you can also select to restrict your commenting viewers in your public posts that can assist you really feel protected and have interaction in additional significant conversations together with your group.” 

That is an vital word – the brand new remark controls do not solely apply to non-public posts, however Pages also can use the brand new restrictions to restrict who can interact with their updates.

And once more, whereas Fb is portray this a technique – offering extra controls to assist customers handle their exercise – the reality right here can also be a little bit extra nuanced. 

As reported by The Guardian, the brand new controls additionally align with a 2019 courtroom ruling in Australia which discovered that information media corporations may be held answerable for defamatory feedback posted by customers on their public Fb Pages.

As per The Guardian:

“The ruling discovered media corporations have a accountability to pre-moderate feedback, however beforehand there was no technique to display feedback posted on Fb earlier than they have been printed, until the web page directors used a restricted key phrase filter to choose up a phrase or phrases and stop feedback containing these phrases being posted.”

Since this ruling, media corporations have been compelled to additional make investments into remark moderation, however this new choice would allow these entities to have extra particular management over such, which may see them, primarily, swap off feedback for extra divisive content material, lowering that burden.

So once more, whereas Fb’s saying one factor, there’s seemingly one other facet to additionally think about. However both approach, it is one other consideration in your course of, and it may assist limit abusive, aggressive feedback within the app – although little question it should additionally spark extra debate over the impacts of filter bubbles and limiting who you interact with, and the way, within the app.

And eventually, Fb can also be including new notes of context on posts that it recommends to customers of their Information Feeds.

Facebook feed post recommendations

As per Fb:

“At this time, we’re additionally offering extra context across the content material we recommend in Information Feed by increasing  “Why am I seeing this?.” Which means you’ll be capable to faucet on posts from the buddies, Pages, and Teams you observe in addition to a few of the posts we recommend to you and get extra context on why they’re showing in your Information Feed.”

As you possibly can see, the brand new choice primarily extends Fb’s adverts explainers to common feed posts, which is able to assist customers get extra context, in the event that they select, as to why one thing is showing of their feed.

There are some attention-grabbing choices right here, which have broader implications within the wider context of Fb’s impression, and it’s attention-grabbing to additionally word the timing of the discharge (simply earlier than an extended weekend) and the aim of this new communication.

Primarily, these instruments do not present numerous new performance, however they do appear to offer extra, which once more, appears to be the primary objective. By giving customers extra choices to handle their interactions, it places additional onus on the customers themselves to handle their expertise, which seems to be Fb’s predominant push. “It isn’t us, it is you, we’re providing you with the instruments to cease your self being indoctrinated or radicalized”. It is then as much as customers how they apply them.

As famous, that appears a little bit tenuous, and disingenuous in strategy. However based mostly on Clegg’s essay, that clearly Fb’s angle, and these new instruments align with that strategy.  

The brand new Feed Filter bar is now out there on Android, with the choice rolling out on iOS within the coming weeks.

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