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The main purpose of Facebook is to keep up with what’s going on with your friends’ lives, so you’d think it would be pretty obvious that scrolling through your news feed would show you a list of what your friends are posting in the order that they’re posted. Since we’re talking about Facebook, though, it’s not quite that simple. 🙁 Even worse, the company likes to completely change the way the news feed works without warning or explanation, so this post explains what the current system, updated as of March 2017.
NOTE: The information below applies to the full web browser version of Facebook, not the mobile web or mobile app versions.
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.
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 obviously 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.
NOTE: There’s a browser extension called F.B. Purity that gives you all sorts of options to customize your Facebook experience. For example, it adds a couple of options to the news feed dropdown list so you can get a feed of only posts from friends (i.e. no Pages or Groups) and a feed consisting solely of posts with photos your friends have uploaded. The extension is available for all major browsers.
Editing News Feed Preferences
You can regain a little more control of your news feed by clicking the Edit Preferences link in the feed dropdown menu. This brings up a menu that will let you identify people and pages that you want to prioritize as well as those you want to unfollow. The latter option is especially when you don’t want to unfriend someone but you don’t want to see their posts unless you go to their Timeline.
NOTE: You can also set preferences for people by rolling over their name anywhere it appears and then rolling over the Following button to choose the options you want.
Finally, if you click the down arrow on any post, you’ll have options to unfollow the poster altogether, people/Pages they’ve shared, or just that post itself (meaning it will be hidden from your feed and you won’t get any further notifications).
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.
NOTE: Unfortunately, when Facebook changed the left-hand column from Favorites to Shortcuts, they removed the ability to add direct links to lists there. Now you’ll find it buried under the Explore > See More menu, and you have to go to the page with all your lists and click from there, making this option a lot less useful.
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.
- 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.
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 which posts your friends will see in their news feeds. 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 editing news feed preferences.
Other things you can try (with no guarantees that they’ll make much of a difference):
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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