Facebook to give users more control over their news feed, turn off algorithmic ranking

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April 1, 2021 7:23 PM

The company’s global affairs VP Nick Clegg said that he had an issue with the way that people said that Facebook algorithms aimed to fuel polarisation and that they meant to manipulate people for monetary gains.

Facebook had announced the development on Wednesday.

Facebook news feed: Social media giant Facebook is set to give more control to users over their news feed on the platform. The change would especially focus on what appears on the user’s news feed and who all can comment on their posts. Facebook had announced the development on Wednesday, among some more changes all of which are aimed at giving a boost to the transparency on the platform and meant to build trust among users on the way Facebook’s algorithms function.

The company’s global affairs VP Nick Clegg said that he had an issue with the way that people said that Facebook algorithms aimed to fuel polarisation and that they meant to manipulate people for monetary gains. Thus, Clegg said that the new tools announced by the company are a part of a wider move to demonstrate to users that their experience on the social media platform only depended on their own relationship with the platform’s algorithm.

The move is significant for the social media platform because for years now, it has been criticised by users and industry stakeholders and has been under scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators over its targeted advertisement business model and for its role in the 2016 US Presidential elections. The company is also targeted over the rampant spread of hate speech, harassment and misinformation that people allege Facebook allows to be circulated on the platform. This could be a way for the company to shirk its responsibility towards monitoring the content that does rounds on the platform, instead putting the onus on the users to control what they see. However, it also tackles the issue of hate speech and harassment by letting users have control over who can comment on their posts, something that microblogging site Twitter had introduced a few months ago.

Control of Facebook News Feed

The most notable of the changes that Facebook has announced is the tool that allows users to control the content they see on their News Feed, along with the order in which they wish to see it. The company is allowing users to select whether they wish to see the content chronologically, in the order that it is posted, or in the current manner that the Facebook algorithm controls.

Apart from this, the users, if dissatisfied by both these options, would also be able to filter the content to only see posts from their favourites.

The tool would be accessible in the Feed Filters Bar, which would be visible at the top of the News Feed. This feature would allow users to switch between different feeds. To have the feature where only content from favourite pages and accounts, the users would have to ensure that they have selected some pages and accounts whose content they like. This feature of selecting favourites was released by the company late last year, and users can choose up to 30 pages or accounts.

Moreover, the algorithm would also explain why a user is watching content from pages they do not follow. Users do to get content on their news feed from pages they do not follow because of the algorithm, and while Facebook would continue this practice, the users would now be able to understand why they are seeing the content by tapping the ‘why am I seeing this’ option.

As for the control over who can comment on a post, users would be able to select a range of options, from giving permission to all users who see the post to only allowing specific tagged pages and people. The feature is similar to that introduced by Twitter last year and it hopes to minimise unwanted interactions.

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