Here’s how to make sure Facebook shows you the content you want

You can beat the algorithm.

Update, Jan. 12, 2018: Facebook did it again. This week, the company announced a major News Feed algorithm update that will show you more posts from your friends and family and fewer posts from businesses or publishers.

It’s not exactly the same as a similar update from 18 months ago, though it’s close. Back then, Facebook was simply giving you more content from your friends. Now, it’s hoping to give you more content you’d actually like to comment on, which is more likely to be from your friends. At least that’s the thinking.

Still, what if you like seeing posts from publishers? Or hate seeing posts from your family? Here’s what you need to know.


What you see on Facebook is determined by a computer — a News Feed algorithm, to be precise, a piece of software that combines things it knows about your interests with stuff people post to give you a personalized stream of content.

On Wednesday, Facebook updated that algorithm, meaning it will start showing users more posts from their friends and family, and fewer posts from brands and publishers (like Recode).

But what if you like seeing posts from brands and publishers (like Recode)? Or you don’t like seeing posts from your distant cousin Alfred who has that obsession with sculptures made out of food?

Well thank goodness, there are simple tricks in News Feed to fix both of these problems. Come hither.

How to see every single post from a friend, brand or publisher on Facebook

Last summer, Facebook rolled out a product called See First, a way to flag Pages or profiles you want to see at the top of your News Feed every time they post something new.

  • Visit the page or profile you want to “see first” and be sure you are already a friend or follower of said page.
  • Click the blue “Following” button on mobile, or the “Liked” button on desktop, and a menu of options will appear. Click “See First.”
  • That’s it. Seriously, it’s that simple.
A Facebook screen for Carly Rae Jepsen Facebook

How to make sure you never see a post from a friend, brand or publisher on Facebook

If you have a friend on Facebook you’re sick of hearing from, and it would be awkward to unfriend them altogether, just “unfollow” them. They won’t know that you’ve unfollowed them, and you won’t see their stuff in your News Feed.

  • Visit the page or profile of the friend you wish to see less from.
  • Click on the “Friends” or “Following” button right under the profile picture to reveal a menu of options. Click “unfollow.”
  • Boom. You’re done.
 Facebook

You can also see first / unfollow people as their stuff appears in your News Feed. Hover your cursor over the person’s name, then click on the “following” button and select “unfollow.”

You can always change your mind on either of these features by revisiting a profile or page. And it’s easy to find suggestions for who to see first or review who you’ve unfollowed by clicking “Settings,” then clicking “News Feed Preferences.”

Now go forth and take back control of your News Feed! And maybe go follow Recode or something. It’s your call, whatever works for you is cool.

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Facebook is making a major change to the News Feed that will show you more content from friends and family and less from publishers

CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that, as a result, he expects that people will spend less time on Facebook.

Here we go: Facebook said on Thursday that it will start to show users more posts from their friends and family in the News Feed, a move that means people will see fewer posts from publishers and brands.

According to Facebook, the move is designed to encourage people to interact more with the stuff that they actually do see. The thinking is that you’re probably more likely to comment and discuss a post shared from a family member than one shared by a business you follow.

“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained in a post on Thursday.

Then he added something else surprising: Facebook expects the change will mean that people will spend less time using the service.

“Now, I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” he wrote. “But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable.”

One of our big focus areas for 2018 is to make sure that the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent. We built…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, January 11, 2018

The announcement is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • It’s bad news for publishers who rely on Facebook for traffic, or a business who uses it as a form of organic marketing. Facebook is very clearly telling these businesses their content won’t spread as far in News Feed, and many publishers spend lots of time and resources creating stuff intended to do just that.
  • Facebook admitting that people will likely spend less time on Facebook has to be sour news for investors. The more time people spend on Facebook, the more ads they consume, and the more money Facebook can make. Less time, at least on paper, seems like it will correlate to less revenue.

For years, critics have blasted Facebook for reinforcing ideologies by showing users content and viewpoints they already agree with, creating a bubble mentality that some believe helped fuel the rise of certain hate groups such as the alt-right. Agents of Russia capitalized on this dynamic and used Facebook (as well as other outlets like Twitter and YouTube) to sow unrest in an attempt to manipulate the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

It’s unclear, however, if these latest changes to News Feed would stem the spread of fake news, since users will still be able to share links to stories from almost any place, including conspiracy sites.

But Facebook says the reason for these changes come from a study it published last month, which found that people who aimlessly scroll through News Feed without interacting with the stuff that they see walked away feeling crummy.

The changes rolling out now are intended to encourage people to interact, which would theoretically help them walk away feeling less crummy.

“We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being,” Zuckerberg continued. “The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being.”

In other words, Facebook believes that it’s sacrificing short-term gain (more time spent) for long-term gain (happier users who will come back more often).

It’s a big gamble, in part because Facebook is bound to alienate a major set of users: Publishers that create a lot of the free content that appears on Facebook. The social network has a reputation for jerking these publishers around by routinely changing the algorithm, which in turn means publishers need to change the kind of stuff they make and share on the service.

But Facebook is clearly taking a stand: Personal connections trump publisher and business reach.

The news came out about an hour before Facebook formally announced it. A handful of publications, including Digiday and The Wall Street Journal, broke parts of the news in stories Thursday afternoon.


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