Facebook, why must you do this?

Facebook: Top newsI don’t understand why Facebook keeps changing my “most recent” news preference to “top news“.

I don’t trust “top news” because it keeps hiding stuff from me that I want to see, and showing me stuff I don’t.

Comments here indicate I’m not alone.

Firefox users can install this plugin to override Facebook’s preference… but really, should one have to resort to that?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

6 replies on “Facebook, why must you do this?”

I assumed this was something to do with cookies or security settings as i never have a problem at home, but the first time i log in at work every day it switches to “Top News”. Of course, my work has stricter internet security that my home PC, i never realised this was scu a widespread problem.

Agreed. How would Facebook know what your top news is? I had the same problem with priority inbox not being able to tell what I considered priority email so I abandoned it (not even I can decide if something should be considered priority sometimes).

But Facebook is notorious for forcing things upon people, and because of their market position, there’s little you can do about it, apart from hacks like the above plugin.

@Terry, you mean Gmail priority inbox? At least that attempts to explain why some things are flagged as priority. Facebook has no such transparency.

Even with it set to “most recent”, Facebook is still hiding some updates. You can get *some* of them back by going to the bottom of the page, clicking on ‘Edit Options’ and then choosing Show Posts from “All of your friends and pages”, instead of “Friends and Pages you interact with the most”.

However, I’ve noticed that there are /still/ some updates that occasionally don’t appear (I know this, because I’ve also got an rss feed of all of my friends updates and that always has everything).

It’s incredibly irritating. You’d think Facebook would benefit from people spending more time reading their pages, rather than skipping half the stuff.

Systems like facebook provide custom views of the information space – what you see is not what everyone else sees. It’s intended to give you a better result by allowing users to focus on what they really want rather than being distracted by the mass of information. Mostly it works by giving priority to information similar to what you already look at. Google prioritises search results in the same way.

The problem, of course, is that there is positive feedback going on. The more the systems present you with a particular type of information, the more you will read it, and the more the system prioritises it. One US political commentator (left leaning) noticed that all his right wing feeds were disappearing. The cause, of course, was that facebook was prioritising his left leaning interests (because that’s what he focused on), and silently deleting the right leaning stuff.

It was months ago that I started noticing this. I mean, I only get updates from a few friends (out of hundreds) and I thought to even consider that maybe they weren’t that active with their accounts anymore. But that’s impossible!

It wasn’t until a friend told me that you have to go to “edit options” for you to get the updates of “all of your friends and pages” and not just those “friends and pages you interact with most”. But now that I’ve made the changes, I still don’t think I’m getting all and everybody’s updates. Oh well.

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