Facebook has undergone many subtle changes over the years, but now a new feature is changing just how you see your friends on Facebook. With its newest update, Facebook is allowing users to control what types of posts appear on their newsfeed. While this seems to be Facebook’s way of granting its users more flexibility, just how much of this control is being exercised by the user, and how much is still being exercised by Facebook itself?
Facebook is traditionally viewed as the most dominant social network on the internet with over 1.23 billion registered users. If you’ve ever used Facebook then you know just how easy it is to connect with “friends”, whether they be people you interact with on a daily basis or that one kid who went to high school with you 30 years ago. One of the biggest complaints of Facebook’s newsfeed system is that posts made by friends or pages that you’ve liked aren’t filtered in any particular manner. Sure you might be “friends” with certain people on Facebook, but that doesn’t mean you always want to see them post rants about government conspiracies every day. With Facebook’s newest update, you can select which friends and pages you would like to see at the top of your newsfeed, while also giving you the ability to bury your conspiracy theory friends deep into your newsfeed so that you rarely see posts from them. It sounds simple and effective, but the reality is that you aren’t the one controlling your newsfeed at all.
Facebook uses a secret algorithm to determine what types of advertisements and other content you see on your newsfeed. If you are constantly liking or commenting on tech pages, Facebook will display ads for certain tech products or even public figures in that field. It’s a complex system, but the end goal for Facebook is to monetize everyone who uses their site by tailoring ads to your preferences. When you choose what types of friends and pages you want to see on your newsfeed, you’re actually allowing Facebook to better understand who you are, and thereby alter what types of ads you see.
You may think that Facebook has oh so generously given you the power to decide who you do and do not see on your newsfeed. This is true yes, but let’s not forget that Facebook is still a business whose main objective is to earn money. Facebook is no longer gaining users at the rates that it used to a few years ago, therefore they have had to figure out how to monetize their existing users more effectively. This update is solely there so that Facebook can do a better job at advertising to you. Sure you gain the ability to set your personal preferences as well, but that’s really more of an afterthought on Facebook’s part.