Following a rash of complaints over Facebook's latest tweak to its News Feed, the world's largest social networking site has restored a recently-eliminated feature that will give users more control over the stories that appear in their News Feeds.
Facebook introduced an update in September that sorted the content in users' News Feeds according to algorithms that determined story relevance in what was an attempt to make News Feed "more like your own personal newspaper." As part of these changes, Facebook did away with the option to sort posts either by "Top Stories" and "Most Recent," instead merging the feeds into a single stream and forcing users to trust Facebook's own judgment regarding the stories that they would find most relevant.
Facebook wrote Wednesday that it is bringing back a new "sort" tool that allows users to choose whether they'd prefer to see "highlighted stories first" -- that is, rely more on Facebook's algorithm to prioritize the stories it guesses will be most interesting -- or else see "recent stories first" -- an option that still relies on Facebook's algorithm, but prioritizes recent updates.
"Now you have a new way of sorting your News Feed: most recent stories first. You can also continue to view highlighted stories first, followed by recent stories, like what you see today. If you don't have the updates to News Feed yet, you can expect to see them over the coming weeks as the rollout continues," wrote Facebook's Mark Tonkelowitz in a blog post.
As with most of Facebook's tweaks, users were ruthless in their criticism of the News Feed update announced some six weeks ago.
"I had my page set up the way I WANTED IT and you idiots decided to change MY set up to the way you wanted it. My page was NOT broken, it did NOT need to be updated for YOUR benefit. I really do NOT appreciate it when other people decide what is in my best interest or what should be important to me. THAT my dears is for ME to decide NOT you," commented Candice Allen in Facebook's blog post.
"I want to choose what I want to see and what's more relevant to me, not some algorithim. its almost Big Brotheresque [sic]," wrote Bryan Pearce. "We already have the option to see top stories and never use it. I prefer a timeline and that why I always chose most recent. I absolutely HATE tickers. They are too distracting and take away from the experience of playing games etc. it just seems like a new way of Facebook trying to cram in more advertising revenue."
Users were encouraged by Facebook's News Feed revamp, taking it as a sign that the site was listening to its members, but also chided the site for billing the change as a "new" feature.
"I find it interesting that Mark is advertising this as a new option, with no acknowledgment that FB made such a boneheaded design decision to begin with," wrote Hans Boldt.
"I like that facebook listens to its users (even if it takes too long), but having the gall to call this a new way is really amazing," wrote Tiuri Elvander in a comment.
See the new/old Facebook News Feed feature in the screenshot below, via Mashable:
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