Facebook changes again – new feed views

10 Nov

I have given this one a bit of time, and I have to say this change has definitely not grown on me, in fact it is a growing irritation.

Facebook changes again cartoon - the groan can be heard from space

Whiiiine indeed

You may have noticed lately that your Facebook newsfeed (the first page you see when you login) has slowed. Have you suddenly become less popular? Has everyone ditched Facebook? No, Facebook has simply made another arbitrary change to the user experience without warning. Hooray!

Essentially, the default news feed now selects and displays posts from the last day by your friends that have mainly been commented on or liked. In theory this means you get a higher quality feed, bringing you the democratically elected best. It also encourages people to interact with posts, to highlight the best their friends produce. Your other main option is to switch to the ‘Live feed’ which constantly updates with the latest posts by friends.

(For more detail on the differences, see this blog post on the ‘Facebook on Higher Education‘ blog, as well as Facebook’s official explanation.)

So as I said, in theory this gives you a higher quality, meritocratic feed. But it doesn’t work for me. My news feed is now clogged with posts by a few very active users who happen to have very active commenting friends. I don’t want to remove them from the feed, I am interested in them, just not that interested. My closer friends are less avid Facebook users and as they all comment on each others’ posts less, they are now completely lost. As with real-world democracy, if the majority do not participate, the system fails.

In which case, I should just switch to the live feed right, what’s the problem? Well I do use the live feed online, but I can’t access that on my mobile browser. Also, I resent the slow, meritocratic feed being the default because it is going to impact on our careers service usage of Facebook.

Just when we gained the benefit of Page updates showing up in newsfeeds, this is likely to bury our posts. Until you have built up a couple of hundred followers, you don’t get a lot of comments and likes on posts. If your posts don’t receive comments, they won’t be highlighted to others, so users won’t see them to comment on them… It all becomes a bit chicken and egg. Unless of course you manipulate the system by getting staff and student reps to make lots of friends and then interact with your posts… Which seems a bit ridiculous.

I could be wrong here, but it sounds like this makes the newsfeed more open to manipulation and cynical campaigns, as well as being unrepresentative of the activity across my range of friends.

And perhaps Facebook could give us more warning/consultation/testing/opportunity for feedback? Maybe?

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