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Facebook Allows Users to Choose What They See First In The News Feed

Facebook is giving more power to the people. The major social network recently announced updated controls to let users choose what they see first in their News Feeds.

It is a major change for Facebook, which for the most part has depended on its famously complicated algorithm to determine what is displayed in the streams of its 1.44 billion users.

The algorithm is not disappearing, of course, but with today’s move Facebook is giving users more of a say in what they see – essentially establishing an optional algorithm override. The update is a redesign and expansion of the News Feed preferences feature that was released last November but was so clunky and buried that few people likely used it. In the past few months, Facebook has been testing ways to make the controls more user-friendly.

Now users will be able to prioritise the friends and Pages whose posts they want to see first. Such posts will appear on the top of users News Feeds with a star displayed in the upper right-hand corner of the post. After the supply of prioritised posts has been exhausted, the regular News Feed mix will take over.

The update also includes a new interface to show the Pages and friends who have appeared most often in user’s News Feeds over the last week, giving users the opportunity to simply unfollow a source who would they rather not see. There is also a page that shows, people and Page that a user has recently unfollowed in case someone wants to reverse a decision.

There’s also a new discovery section that gives people the opportunity to find new Pages to follow. That section will be populated with Pages Facebook believes are relevant based on the user’s behaviour and what similar people like.

The question that marketers are probably asking is: will people use these new controls to connect more with brands and businesses? This remains to be seen. Facebook’s News Feed Product Manager Greg Marra told TechCrunch that the changes won’t have much impact for marketers on Facebook.

However, there is at least the potential for businesses and publishers to ask customers to prioritise their posts. Of course, these opt-in requests made via Facebook post might not be seen by very many people given the low organic reach for Pages. One way around that issue would be to pay Facebook to boost a post asking to be granted top of the News Feed access.

These changes have rolled out on iOS with Android and desktop expected in the coming weeks.

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