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Facebook Gives News Feed a Tune-Up

By Quinten Plummer
Jul 10, 2015 12:06 PM PT
facebook-news-feed

Facebook on Thursday slammed the hood, wiped its hands, and introduced the latest set of upgrades to its News Feed engine. The all-new 2015 Facebook News Feed gives users more control over the content they see when they cruise the world's largest social network.

The new tools allow users to prioritize the people who populate their News Feeds.

Facebook news feed preferences

Users can set their top friends, and content from those accounts will be given preference over others. The personalized News Feeds will catch up users with all of the content shared by priority accounts since their last visit to Facebook.

The new control also enables users to keep others at arms length more effectively, without unfriending those who might simply be too chatty or unfiltered for their taste.

Facebook news feed unfollow

It already was possible to mute friends without removing them from the playlist, but users now have streamlined locations for viewing all of their followed and unfollowed friends.

Rounding out Facebook's aftermarket additions to the News Feed is a new space for the Discover feature. Users can visit the Discover section to find new page recommendations, all based on their current connections.

The latest changes to the News Feed are available now on iOS. They will start rolling out to the Android and desktop platforms in the coming weeks.

Homogenized Sharing?

The refreshed News Feed will provide a better and more accurate user experience, according to Jim Belosic, CEO of ShortStack.

"Facebook can gain an even further look into the types of posts that fans want to see from their friends and the Pages they follow," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Deeper personalization of the News Feed also could help Facebook identify the most popular and relevant Pages. With that knowledge, Facebook might require the more popular Pages to pay higher advertising rates, Belosic suggested.

The real goal of News Feed is to search for insights into people and the things they share, observed Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

A more complex set of controls actually hurt Facebook, he said.

"Many folks already use the Internet to isolate themselves in what are effectively echo chambers," King told the E-Commerce Times. "In a way, the changes to the Feed effectively systematizes that process."

Bookmarked, Booted or Buried

The impact of tinkering under the News Feed's hood extends beyond the average user. Although the News Feed upgrades still smell of WD-40, they could have a significant impact on the way users interact with Pages from businesses, celebrities and others.

"If they work as planned, the changes could increase the effectiveness of Facebook-delivered ads, which would obviously be a good thing for companies that buy FB advertising," King said. "If the changes spark a significant backlash, that bad PR could taint those companies."

If a company is often excluded from users' lists of priority Pages, that business could find itself buried in News Feeds, and it may have to spend even more on advertising, Belosic pointed out. However, the inverse also could occur.

On "the upside, your most engaged and loving fans will see your posts more and business can be less dependent on ads," Belosic said. "As a marketer, I'd keep an eye on organic reach in the near future and see how it is affected due to these updates."


Quinten Plummer is a longtime technology reporter and an avid PC gamer who explored local news for a few years, covering law enforcement and government beats, before returning to writing about things run by ones and zeros and the people who make them. If it pushes pixels or improves lives, he wants to learn all he can about it.


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