According to the latest news, Facebook is introducing a handful of new features. These features will give users greater control over their News Feed. With this, users will be able to turn off their News Feed’s algorithmic ranking easily.
Last year, in October, Facebook introduced a “Favorites” tool that allowed users to select up to thirty friends and pages. The Favorites section was prioritized and its content was displayed in a separate feed. Facebook allows users the option to sort their News Feed by “most recent”. Now, Facebook is making “Favorites” and “Recent” filters more prominent by putting them at the top as separate tabs which can be switched. This filter bar will launch on Facebook’s Android app globally today. It will come to iOS “in the coming weeks.” As of now, it is not clear that whether these features will also be available on the web version or not.
Note that if you don’t use the filter bar at regular intervals then Facebook will make it disappear for you. This means, in simple words, the filter bar is not at all a permanent addition to Facebook’s user interface. Facebook told The Verge that the feature will automatically disappear if the users do not use the Favorites tool for seven days. If the user wants to use the tool after Facebook makes it disappear for not using at weekly intervals then the user has to go to “Favorites” through the preferences menu for the News Feed and the filter bar will make a comeback. The whole thing is the same for the “Most Recent” tab.
Facebook is also introducing a new tool that lets users limit who can comment on their posts. This means Facebook is offering more control over the “Why am I seeing this?” feature. It is to be noted that this tool was introduced last April. The feature lets users click on posts suggested by Facebook’s algorithms to see why it was recommended to them. From now on, these explanations will cover suggested posts from pages or people that users don’t follow.
Frankly, all these changes are minor but overall, they are giving more control to the user. Facebook has repeatedly come under fire over studies that convey its algorithm amplifies misinformation and extremist content to drive up user engagement. Facebook has been accused of this kind of criticisms for a long time but recently it increased sharply. The changes suggest that Facebook is keen to deflect the criticism over choices made by its algorithm. These changes give Facebook users the ability to opt-out of algorithmic sorting.
Note that still Facebook is hesitant about committing to changes that will eventually undermine its own engagement stats. To be more precise, if the filter bar automatically disappears after seven days of inactivity then Facebook is offering these changes more as a strategy to give the appearance of control than being really serious about letting users choose what they see on Facebook News Feed.