Facebook is taking another shot at improving user control on News Feed content

Facebook is taking another shot at improving user control on News Feed content
Photo Credit: Reuters
19 Nov, 2021

Social media platform Facebook is once again testing new ways to increase user control on the News Feed. In a blog post last night, the company said that it is “testing new ways” to make it easier for people to adjust how content is ranked on the News Feed. “As part of this, people can now increase or reduce the amount of content they see from the friends, family, groups and pages they’re connected to and the topics they care about in their News Feed Preferences,” the company said.

According to Facebook, the changes will roll out to a “small percentage” of users around the world, which will expand gradually in the “coming weeks”. The company also said that it expects to offer “topic exclusion” controls for the New Feed, which is meant for advertisers. “The advertiser topic exclusion control allows an advertiser to select a topic to help define how we’ll show the ad on Facebook, including News Feed,” the post said.

This will include three topics — News and Politics, Social Issues and Crime and Tragedy. Selecting these topics will allow advertisers to hide their ads from people who have recently engaged with such topics in the News Feed. Facebook claimed that it had been able to achieve over 90% accuracy in excluding ads from all three of these topics.

Further, the social media giant said that these products “may not solve the needs of every advertiser” and that it had learned from industry interactions that some of them wanted “content-level granularity”. It said that the new News Feed controls will be a “bridge” between what Facebook can offer today and where it “hopes to go” in terms of content-based controls.

Interestingly, the company didn’t make any mention of giving people a chance to get rid of its recommendation algorithms altogether. In March it made the ‘Favourites’ and “Most Recent’ filters more prominent on the platform, which allow users some control over the algorithmic recommendations the company otherwise makes on the News Feed. These two are still driven by recommendation algorithms though, but take people’s preferences and the time of a post into consideration, respectively.