Facebook news feed is in constant change, but as New Yorker’s journalist Om Malik puts it, it is “often changed, but never great”.
When I first joined Facebook in 2009, I instantly fell in love with it because it used to be a great place to connect with your friends. You could easily see where they are, what they are doing, what is going on and where. However, that doesn’t seem to be true anymore.
Now, Facebook news feed seems to be filled with a lot of informational noise. All I see is popular pages’ posts, live streams, advertisements and who liked what. I don’t see my friends posts at all unless they get 50 or more likes. What happened?
Convince and Convert marketing president Jay Baer has an answer to this question.
“Informationally, Facebook has set it up so that the rich get richer. The “good stuff” will be seen by more, and the “boring stuff” will be seen by few or none. I’m not sure that’s optimal from a personal connection standpoint because it smells of forced virality. But, I can understand their point. There is far too much content being published to show it to all of the people who have “subscribed” to see it via “fan” or “friend” connection. They also need to make money, so they have to reserve some of that news feed for sponsored content.”
That sort of explains it. It is known that Facebook developers are constantly working on improving the news feed. At this point, Facebook algorithm learns about you by scanning your likes, preferred post types, best friends and then shows you more of what you’ve liked. Plus, a platform with almost 2 billion active users and increasing amount of content has to find a way to display the most relevant content and monetize its traffic.
So from that perspective, it definitely works. One can spend hours there, just scrolling down and keep on seeing new content. It is like falling into attention black hole. But does it serve you, or itself? And more importantly, what can you do about it?
Default feed options
Facebook offers two ways to perceive your news: you can choose either “Top Stories” or “Most Recent”. It also offers the opportunity to personalise news feed yourself. Let’s go through these options one-by-one.
Facebook Top Stories feed
This is your default Facebook news feed. At this point, if you turn on Facebook for only 20 minutes per day, you can easily catch up with all of the most important stories of the past 24 hours.
Unfortunately, that is not the case with the most of Facebook users. According to the study by Mediakix, an average person spends around 35 minutes per day on Facebook. This means that majority of users are not there just to keep up with the popular posts. We are also there to connect with friends and things that we care about. Which leads to another problem with top stories.
When you like your friends (or pages) updates, Facebook automatically displays you more of that. Essentially, you end up in your own filter bubble, surrounded by people who think alike. At first, it sounds good, but it isn’t. Even Bill Gates has expressed a concern about filter bubbles in his recent interview with Quartz, “It lets people play to a narrow worldview, which is worrisome. Today that turns out to be a bigger problem than expected“. Thus seeing things that you prefer to see is not necessarily beneficial.
Besides the social media bubble, where are the friends who you don’t regularly interact with? You see less and less of them until you don’t see them at all.
Don’t get me wrong here. Trending and popular news on Facebook feed are useful, but there should be other options. Also, what about real-time public interaction? For that, let’s look at the most recent stories feed.
Facebook Most Recent feed
When you switch to the latest stories, the feed posts become real-time. Well, it seems like that solves our problem and we can all go home. Haha, no. It would be a good deal if our stories didn’t mix up with every other possible post type. Currently, most recent feed displays everything: your friend A just liked a picture from over the year ago, friend B commented on an article from some kind of Facebook page and friend C likes a week old status of friend D. You get the picture.
It is still not the fresh posts from your friends. Half of the stories are real-time likes, comments or tags, and the other half consists of posts and other activities. Essentially, what difference does it make to see that one of my peers just tagged another one under the potato picture which says “Tag your friends here and say nothing”. Sometimes it can be fun to spectate, but other times it is just simply annoying.
In the “edit preferences” section, Facebook also allows you to change your news feed priorities. Here, you can choose which people or page to see first and which ones you do not want to see at all. You can also re-follow people/pages which you have previously unfollowed and discovered new things to follow.
That’s basically it. This feature can be handy if you don’t follow a lot of people or pages, but prioritizing does not solve the problem – info bubbles and not seeing posts which you actually care about.
How can you change that?
There are two tools that you can use to gain better control of your Facebook feed.
F.B. Purity is a completely free browser plugin, which is designed to give you a total control of your feed. With this extension, you can select and identify what sort of Facebook news you want to see. How does that work?
Basically, it identifies every possible type of story and lets you choose whether to hide them or not. It also has some additional filters that help you to hide food, baby or smoking pictures, which a lot of us truly appreciate (yes, the future is here).
In my opinion, this is a much better way for sorting your news feed than being forced to discriminate against your friends or pages. By choosing the post types that concern you, you also reduce the informational trash in your feed and essentially save your time.
Besides that, F.B. Purity plugin also allows you to sort your feed in more interesting ways. In addition to Top Stories and Most Recent, it also adds Friends, Pages, Groups and Pictures feeds, so you can choose to see precisely what you want.
Also, there are several extra features that this extension offers. For example, it shows you a notification when someone unfriends you, or you can add text filters for subjects that you don’t want to see, hide ads or suggested pages and do much more cool stuff. In its essence, Fluff Busting Purity is an ultimate your Facebook feed control tool.
As mentioned previously, F.B. Purity is a free tool. Currently, it works with every major browser. In exchange, its author asks only for donations, which is a nice way to say thank you for developing it. Visit the creator’s website yourself at fbpurity.com.
Another solution is Facebook news feed Eradicator. It is another browser extension which I recommend. It does exactly what its title suggests – eradicates Facebook news feed and instead of it, it shows motivational quotes.
Let’s admit it, Facebook news feed is extremely distracting. In fact, Facebook designs it to be as attention-catching as possible. That is a part of what makes it such a popular platform. But that does not always benefit the end-users.
Nir Eyal, the author of “Hooked: How to build habit-forming products” stated at the TNW Conference 2017, sometimes Facebook (and other social media platforms) engages people so much, that they become addicted to it. Facebook addiction may sound stupid, but it is very real. Essentially, I think everyone who regularly uses Facebook might be addicted to it on some level.
In most cases, that is not a problem, since Facebook helps us to network. But it becomes one when it starts to interrupt work. That’s where Facebook news feed Eradicator comes into play.
It may sound like eliminating Facebook feed is not a solution to its problems, but I find it convenient. I still can look up my friends anytime I want to and I have my newsfeed in the mobile app. In this way, it reduces my distractions while working on the computer.
To install, visit the creator’s website by clicking here. Unfortunately, news feed eradicator only works with Chrome, but there are alternatives for every browser.
P.S.: F.B. Purity also has "hide news feed" option, however, I prefer Eradicator because of its quotes.
They are really good!