Fiddling With Your Facebook News Feed

erica-manfred2Last week in  Aging With Geekitude, Erica demystified Bluetooth technology. This week, she’s exploring the intricacies of Facebook’s system for showing you content you might not really want to see. Read on for tips.

 

If you’re a Facebook junkie like me, you’ve probably noticed that you’re not seeing what you want to see in your news feed. Maybe you’ve wondered how you can outwit Facebook’s system for determining what you see – otherwise known as the Facebook algorithm.

I had no idea what an algorithm was until I read about how Facebook decides which posts populate our news feeds.

Can You Beat the Facebook Algorithm?

According to Wikipedia, an algorithm is simply “a step-by-step procedure for calculations.” In the Internet world, it’s a formula created by a website to determine what any specific user will see on any given web page at any given time. A large and sophisticated site has the potential to show the average user about 15,000 pieces of content at once, so algorithms are a necessary evil.

However, your preferred algorithm and Mark Zuckerberg’s are probably very different. While you want to see posts from family, close friends, and groups and pages that you follow, he wants you to see as many ads as possible without getting really pissed off.

Facebook recently announced that they were trying to change their wicked ways for the better by providing more timely posts. Ha! According to the aptly named site convinceandconvert.com, Facebook has altered the math of the game so that you’re most likely to see posts that get a disproportionate number of likes, clicks, comments or shares  – even if they were not posted by a friend of yours or group/page you follow. That’s why the college reunion of someone you barely know floats to the top of your feed, while your best friend’s hospitalization disappears. So keep in mind that when you “like” a post, you’re going to see a lot more from that person – or on that topic.

This system opens up more real estate for promoted posts and ads that Facebook has been paid to show you. What’s changed? Now not only companies can pay for ads, but you can too. So, if you want even more people to see your cat posing in a silly hat, you can spend $7 to make it so.

Trying to outwit Facebook’s algorithms is pointless because, let’s face it, they’re better at it than you ever will be. So go with the flow and just try to tweak your Facebook to make it as useful as possible.

Here are some tips, including a few from Facebook’s help pages and some from Kim Komando, my favorite tekspert ever since I used to listen to her on the radio before Facebook even existed.

How to See What You Want to See on Facebook

See the posts you actually want to see

See more recent posts 

At the top left of the left column when you’re on your News Feed, click the arrow next to News Feed and choose the option to show Most Recent instead of Top Stories.

news-feed-options

See notifications from close friends

In the left column when you’re on your news feed, find Friends. You might have to click More to see the Friends section. Click on Close Friends to view the list.

Click Manage List > Choose Update Types in the top right to select the types of updates you want to receive notifications about – for example, photos and status updates, but not games or comments.

Here’s an FAQ from Facebook on tweaking your news feed.

See posts by people and pages you follow

Interest lists are an optional way to organize and view the content you’re interested in on Facebook. Instead of “liking” a  page, you can add it to an Interest list (or you can add a page you already “like”). You can create your own Interest lists based on the things you care about, or follow other people’s lists. For example, you could create a Top Indie Films list that includes the pages of movies you’re interested in; you’ll then see all public updates on those pages in your Interest feed. Your interests list can include people as well as pages, so making a list is a good way to see posts you want to see from friends, too. And unlike “likes,” you can make your interests private, so nobody has to know.

When you create or follow a list, you may see some posts from that list in your main news feed. Updates on pages that are on your lists will also appear on your Interests pages, which you can find in the Interests section of your bookmarks. Simply click the list’s name to see all the recent posts and activity from the pages and people featured in the list.

Here’s a helpful FAQ from Facebook on interest lists.

Avoid over-sharers

Have you ever had a friend who just posts too many pictures of their grandchildren?

Don’t unfriend them – that’s the equivalent of declaring war. All you have to do to stop receiving updates from a social media over-sharer is click the down arrow on the upper-right hand side of one of their status updates.

Then click the Unfollow button to stop receiving updates from that person. You can turn their updates back on by going to their profile and refollowing them. Simple! And they won’t know.

See more relevant ads

Did you know that you could hide certain ads? If you keep seeing an ad that annoys you or doesn’t apply to you, you can tell Facebook that it’s inappropriate. When you hover over the ad you’ll see a small “x” in the upper right. Click the “x” and you’ll see a list of reasons you might not like the ad. Select whichever applies, and Facebook will display another list to choose a more specific explanation of why you do not like the ad. Presto, no more ads from that brand.

What annoys you most about Facebook?   Do you have a tip to share?
See more Aging With Geekitude articles.

Erica Manfred is a journalist, essayist and humorist who writes about everything from dentistry to divorce to fantasy fiction. Friend her on Facebook.

5 comments
  • SIDNEY COAD WILLIAMS
    REPLY

    I LOVE FACEBOOK.
    IT IS A GOOD PLACE TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS.
    AS A HEALTH ACTIVIST I ALSO USE FACEBOOK TO INSPIRE, MOTIVATE AND ACTIVATE OTHERS TO ADOPT A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE SO THAT THEY CAN GROW OLD GRACEFULLY. SIDNEY COAD WILLIAMS
    HEALTH AND PEACE ACTIVIST.

  • Pissed Off
    REPLY

    Facebook rarely shows me anything in my newsfeed. When it does show me I can only scroll back to when the feed started again.

    Can’t fiddle with a news feed that does not exist. Been reported numerous times to Facebook, never get a reply or my newsfeeds fixed.

    • Anna R
      REPLY

      I too love AdBlocker as I haven’t seen an ad in years. It is a shock when I log into another computer and go to Facebook.
      I also manage things by creating Lists and adding them to Favorites, you can put them in any order you want and see the posts by the people in each List.

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