Over lunch the other day, a friend and I were discussing how much Facebook has changed.
“It’s really frustrating! These days, my news feed is overrun with updates I don’t want to see.”
I had the same feeling.
Remember a time before Facebook was 1.3 billion users strong? And Facebook showed us a Live Feed about what our friends where up to? And Facebook wasn’t completely focused on showing us the “best” content?
It was nice to see updates that were more focused on human connection than viral potential.
A Quick Review: The Determining Factors
Every time you visit Facebook, there is on average a possible 1,500 stories to view made up of status updates, links, app and page activity, and links or photos. To make it easier for people to consume these items, Facebook prioritizes about 300 of these stories to show you each day.
So, how do they make their decision?
Facebook uses a secret ranking algorithm to decide what makes it into your feed out of all that content. The original ranking system, once called EdgeRank, has now evolved into a more complex algorithm based on machine learning.
EdgeRank was used to determine what ended up in News Feeds up until 2011, and according to SocialBakers, had the following formula:
The 3 main factors were: affinity, weight, and decay.
While these three influencers are still at work, Facebook confirmed to the Daily Dot that the new algorithm also takes 100,000 weighted variables into account to decide what stories people “want” to see, including:
- How often you interact with a friend, page, or public figure.
- The number of likes, shares, and comments a story receives from the public (and your friends).
- How much you’ve interacted with this type of post.
- Whether or not a post has been reported or hidden.
This magical algorithm is constantly being tweaked and updated (its most recent changes announced earlier this week are designed to crack down on clickbait), and in many ways, it’s nice that Facebook is trying to take some of the guess work out of finding worthy content.
However, even with its elaborate ranking system, Facebook still isn’t getting it completely right. Important updates from friends or pages you follow often don’t make it into your feed because they don’t solicit a large amount of clicks, likes, or shares.
For example, you might care what your best friend ate for lunch (even if no one else does).
The good news is that there are steps you can take to customize your Facebook news feed so that when you sign on – you’ll see stuff that actually interests you. Here are 4 easy tips to help you kick your news feed into shape.
1) Change Your Newsfeed to ‘Most Recent’
This is the quickest and easiest way to see a wider range of posts from your community.
Click Sort at the top of your home page, and you have the option to choose between Top stories and Most recent.
If you choose Most recent, Facebook will organize your feed in a more chronological order rather than using Facebook’s algorithm to decide what is most important.
It’s a great option, but be aware that you can’t choose to do both!
2) Hide and Unfollow What You Don’t Want to See
I have a particularly strong hatred of posts announcing Candy Crush scores. You too?
Luckily, there’s an easy option to help me get rid of them.
If you come across a post you don’t want to see, click on the drop-down menu in the top-right corner and select: I don’t want to see this. You can also choose to block all content from a specific user by selecting Unfollow [User].
If you want to share why you’re hiding the post, click “Why don’t you want to see this?”
You can choose one of the following options:
For ads from pages, you’ll also have the option to Hide all ads from [Page].
I am a big fan of pruning out content from my Facebook News Feed that I don’t want to see, so I probably use this tip the most!
3) De-Spam As Much as You Can
In addition to ad-hoc hiding and unfollowing, I also think it’s important to make sure you employ some sort of spam strategy against promoted ads or posts.
For example, I don’t mind sponsored content from pages I like, but I’m not a fan of finding ads from sites I visited outside of Facebook in my News Feed.
I read a great post a couple days ago on TechRadar about how to limit the amount of spam you end up seeing.
Here were my two favorites:
Opt out of ads.
You can do this! Even though it doesn’t block ads from your News Feed, it does help with sites that you visited outside of Facebook. Just visit Settings > Ads.
There’s a link to let you opt out at the bottom of the page:
Just be aware that opting out must be down on each browser or device you use, and you’ll need to redo it any time you clear your cookies.
Stop Liking Stuff
When Wired’s Mat Honan went on a liking spree as an experiment, his News Feed was soon so densely populated with political posts and advertising that he lost any hope of seeing posts from any of his friends.
Likes are a main source of Facebook spam, so try to avoid giving a like to something you don’t want to end up seeing constantly in your feed. Instead, you can try commenting on posts as a way to engage.
4) You Can Always Change Your Mind
If you want to resubscribe or unmute anything you’ve hidden, just head to your home page and hover over your News Feeds. Click on the gear icon that appears on the left and click Edit Settings.
A window will pop up with all the friends, groups, and pages you’ve hidden posts from. Click the X next to items that you’d like to start seeing in your feed again.