With its new algorithm, Facebook intends to give more control to its users by allowing them to personalize the content they see on their news feed. They will thus be able to favor the publications of their relatives rather than those supposed to make them react.
The start of the 2021 school year has not been easy for Facebook. The company has indeed come under much criticism following revelations from whistleblower Frances Haugen. The latter notably revealed that Facebook favored hateful content – or did nothing to limit its visibility – because the latter favored interactions and therefore, profits for the platform. A phenomenon linked to the algorithm implemented in 2018 by the social network. The latter has been designed to highlight publications likely to trigger engagement with users. But in view of recent revelations and criticisms, Facebook now wants to integrate another algorithm that further values the publications of relatives.
Personalize your news feed
The new news feed is still in the testing phase with a number of users. It was developed to give them more control. Facebook followers will therefore be able to choose what type of content they mostly want to see in their news feed: publications from relatives or their favorite pages and groups.
“Users can now increase or decrease the amount of content they see from friends, family, groups and pages they’re logged in to and topics that interest them in their News Feed preferences,” says Meta in its press release. An approach that is part of its “continuous work to give people more control over the news feed, so that they see more what they want and less what they don’t want”.
At the same time, Facebook will also offer more controls to its business customers. They will be able to choose the type of news near which they do not want their advertisements to appear (news and politics, social issues and crime and tragedy).
This is not the first time that such an algorithm has been implemented on the platform. Originally, the Facebook news feed did focus on content from loved ones, but this was a period that was quickly over. The company quickly highlighted the content of brands and publishers for economic reasons, but in 2015, Facebook reconsidered its positions by offering a news feed focusing on the content of relatives. A reinforced orientation the following year.
Things really changed in 2018. Posts that could trigger engagement took precedence over posts from friends and family. In 2020, after being heavily criticized for its lack of moderation, Facebook again changed its news feed to value reliable and quality sources of information, before reverting to the previous model at the end of the year.