Back in 2009, I wrote a post called “When Your Facebook Posts Don’t Show Up on Friends’ Home Pages.” Back then, when you posted a status update to your “Wall” (now Timeline), you had to explicitly tell Facebook that you wanted it to show up in your friends’ news feeds as well. That requirement went away a long time ago but I never removed that post and recently I’ve received some questions from readers about where to find that option.
I could just update that post to say it’s no longer applicable (or delete it altogether) but the thing is that there are still issues with friends being able to see your posts in their feeds (and vice versa). However, as with many things about Facebook, the situation is way more complicated now, so this post will address the various options you now have.
NOTE: This post applies to the full web browser version of Facebook, not the mobile web or mobile app versions. However, you do have some of the same capabilities in those so go through the menus to see those options.
Managing What You See in Your Own News Feed
Even though more people ask about why their friends can’t see their posts, I’m starting with the flip side of the issue because, really, this is the only one you actually have much control over.
When it comes to what you see in your feed (i.e. what is being posted by your friends and people/Pages you follow) there are a lot of options. None of them are ideal, in my opinion, but some are better than others, depending on what you want to see.
This is Facebook’s default setting, i.e. what you will see when you log into Facebook if you’ve never specifically made any changes anywhere. For me, it’s also pretty much the most annoying thing about the service, one that I’ve written/ranted about before. It has to do with the infamous Facebook “algorithm,” which just means the logic the system uses to decide what to show you.
Basically, Facebook uses a whole bunch of different factors to show you what they think you’re most going to want to see. What those factors are and how they’re weighted is a closely guarded company secret, but some of the factors are clearly whose posts you like, comment on and share the most; how many likes, comments and shares posts have received from other people; whether or not you’re a friend of those other people; the type of content posted; and trending topics posted across Facebook as a whole.
Note: A few hours after I posted this, Facebook published a blog post about changes they are making to their algorithm!
Unfortunately, for a lot of people (including me) the algorithm doesn’t work very well. You end up missing posts you would be very interested in or you keep seeing the same posts at the top of your feed after you’ve already read them. They’re also not in the order they were posted so you’ll see one post from three days ago, followed by another from 10 minutes ago, followed by one from yesterday, etc. which doesn’t make for a very natural experience.
There’s also a real vicious circle element to it. If you don’t see a post, you’re not going to like or comment on it, which means you’re less likely to see similar posts in the future.
All in all, a pretty crappy system. 🙂 Fortunately, it’s easy enough to change to:
To see this version, click the down arrow beside News Feed in the left column and select Most Recent.
There are two important things to know about this view:
- While the posts generally appear in reverse chronological order, if one of your friends likes or comments on a post, that can bump it back up to the top of the list.
- You still won’t see every post from all your friends, groups, and Pages you follow because Facebook still curates your list. Perhaps more surprisingly, you may not even see posts that you can see in your Top Stories feed!
Once you’ve selected this view, it should stay this way as long as you remain logged into Facebook, even if you close your browser. However, you may find it occasionally reverts back but it’s usually pretty obvious when this happens because the posts are all out of order again.
If there are specific people whose posts you don’t want to miss, you can add them to a list. Facebook provides some built-in lists, like Close Friends and Family and they also automatically create ones for your friends that worked at the same company or went to the same school, if you’ve all listed that in your profiles. But you can also create your own custom lists that have whatever groupings make sense to you.
- Go to facebook.com/bookmarks/lists.
- Click the Create List button.
- Give your list a name.
- To add friends, start typing and a dropdown box will appear with people whose first or last names begin with the letters you’ve typed.
- Click the Create button.
You’ll now see a feed of all the activity by the people on your list.
And I do mean ALL activity, including what your friends have liked, commented on, shared, were tagged in and posted to other people’s Timelines. However, you do have some ability to manage what type of activity is displayed. UPDATE 05/28/15: Facebook removed this feature, very shortly after I wrote this post by the looks of it. Ugh. UPDATE 11/19/15: So now it seems like Facebook has removed all types of activity from List feeds except for actual posts from the people on the lists. I still prefer having options I can set myself, but if that’s not possible I think this will be a better situation for most people. (MAN, it’s hard to keep up with all these algorithm changes!)
Some other things to know about lists:
- You can add individuals to lists by rolling over their name anywhere it appears (e.g. when they like or comment on a post) and then rolling over the Friends button.
- When you first create the list, you don’t have the option of adding Pages to it. Once it’s created, though, you can use the Edit List option to add them (as well as add/remove people). Just select Pages from the dropdown list at the top left of the Edit box to see a list of all the Pages you follow.
- Unfortunately, you can’t make a list’s feed the default but you can access it more easily by adding it to the Favorites in the left-hand column. Go to the Lists page and click the gear icon beside the list name to add it. It will appear at the bottom of the Favorites but you can move it up by clicking the gear icon beside it and selecting Rearrange and then dragging the list to where you want it. You’ll need to click Done at the bottom of the list to finish the process.
Using lists is really the best bet for making sure you see posts from the people and Pages you’re most interested in, short of going directly to their Timelines.
Hiding People’s Posts
Sometimes you don’t want to unfriend somebody, but you don’t want to see some or all of their posts in your news feeds. There are a few different ways to “unfollow” them.
- Click the down arrow at the top right of the screen and select News Feed Preferences from the dropdown list that appears. You’ll get a dialog box where you can follow/unfollow people, Pages, and groups.
- Roll over the person’s name anywhere it appears. In the popup that appears, click the Follow/Unfollow button as needed.
- Click the down arrow for anything they post. You’ll have options to unfollow the person altogether, people/Pages they’ve shared, or just that post (meaning it will be hidden from your feed and you won’t get any further notifications).
Getting Your Posts to Show Up in Your Friends’ News Feeds
If you’ve read the previous section, you can see why you have little control over this yourself. It really depends on how Facebook’s algorithm interprets your friends’ actions and uses that info to select content to show them.
However, if you have specific friends who tell you that they don’t see your posts, you can point them to the section above, especially the part about creating lists.
Other things you can try (with no guarantees that they’ll make much of a difference):
- Like and comment on your own posts.
- Like, comment on, and share posts by the friends you most want to see yours.
- Tag people you think would most find them interesting.
- Broaden your privacy settings to Friends of Friends (increasing the odds of getting more likes, comments, and shares.
- Restrict your privacy settings to specific people or lists of your closest contacts.
Do you have other tips about how to manage your Facebook news feeds? If so, please share them in the comments below.
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