Facebook News Feed filtering can make friends vanish
If some of your friends seem to have become unusually quiet on Facebook, it may not be their fault.
Before, clicking the "Most Recent" link atop that list of updates would give you exactly that: the most recent updates from your friends, instead of the automatically edited selection available under "Top News." Now, however, the Most Recent list can itself be filtered: Facebook can hide some updates by friends if you haven't interacted with them on the site recently.
(In a similar move, Facebook now sorts posts on pages from fans by their perceived relevance, not the order in which they were posted.)
To check, click the Most Recent link (twice if you're now viewing the Top News list) and select "Edit Options..." from the menu that appears below it. You'll see a dialog pop open, as seen above; its "Show posts from:" menu will offer a choice of "Friends and pages you interact with most" or "All of your friends and pages." The latter will restore things to their prior working, showing everything from your friends (and the companies, organizations and public figures whose pages you've endorsed with a click of their Like buttons).
In fairness to Facebook, it's tackling one of the harder problems in computing: finding out what's important to a user and hiding what's not. This challenge comes up in one category of application after another and has spawned solutions as diverse as Gmail's "Priority Inbox" and the smart playlists that music programs offer to ensure you can keep rocking along to 2003's greatest hits.
But this sort of change requires better documentation than Facebook has provided so far. More choices in News Feed filtering would also help. Here are a few options that I'd like to see the site add:
* Hide politically themed updates from friends I tolerate despite their reactionary/pinko leanings.
* Hide politically themed updates from friends of similar political views who just can't shut up about them.
* Hide really syrupy Valentine's Day greetings and other public displays of digital affection.
* Hide all updates from Facebook games.
* Show only the first four copies of a joke, link, photo or video once it starts to go viral across the site.
* Hide status updates that a friend has cross-posted from Twitter, but show all other posts by that friend.
(Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham sits on Facebook's board of directors. For that sort of case, Facebook needs yet another filter: Always show updates from my bosses, especially if they pertain to my job.)
What sort of filters would you like to see between you and the News Feed? Post your suggestions in the comments.
| February 14, 2011; 12:15 PM ET
Categories: Social media
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