Should Facebook Give Users an Unfiltered News Feed?

Report indicates they're going to do so

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Should Facebook Give Users an Unfiltered News Feed?
[ Social Media]

We recently asked readers of Google and Facebook should be filtering our content for us? Many of you said no, but that’s what both have been doing for quite some time through various forms of personalization. It’s partially about noise reduction, and being served the content that is most relevant to us, but by doing this, we are living our online lives in what has come to be known as the “Filter Bubble”.

Should Facebook add an unfiltered version of the News Feed? Tell us what you think.

Google and Facebook aren’t the only two companies filtering our content this way. Many services do this kind of personalization. Just this week, AOL launched a new iPad Magazine, which is based on serving personalized content for each user. Google and Facebook are two of the most dominant sources of information, however. While Google hopes to play a bigger role in how we see information from our friends, brands, and those we’re influenced by on the social level, that role currently belongs to Facebook as the world’s dominant social network. It’s how the majority of social Internet users engage with content this way.

Eli Pariser, who coined the term “Filter Bubble” gave a popular TED Talk a while back discussing the concept in which he quoted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as saying, “A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.”

This would appear to be the philosophy behind the Facebook News Feed as it currently exists. You may “like” CNN, who might be running a story about people dying in Africa, but you might miss that if Facebook’s algorithm determines that you’d be more interested in seeing the bit about the squirrel from one of your neighbors.

The point is, you’re not seeing everything. What makes it more interesting is that the more Pages you “like” which should theoretically give you access to more information from sources you care about, the more information you’re going to miss, because all of these pages are competing with one another for that spot in your News Feed that you actually see.

Granted, Facebook’s strategy makes sense in some ways, because too much information is simply just too hard to consume, and it’s highly likely that you’ll miss some of it anyway, just because it will get pushed further down. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a completely unfiltered option? A way to see every single update from every single friend and Page you’ve associated yourself with on Facebook?

Remember – you’re the one that chose to become friends with these people or “like” these pages. You control that.

Well, it appears Facebook may be readying a new News Feed that will give us this unfiltered look at our social graph. A new report from the Wall Street Journal indicates that Facebook is going to be changing the way the News Feed works sometime soon.

Shayndi Raice And Emily Steel report: “Now Facebook engineers are working to create an unfiltered News Feed that would open the floodgates of information about users and the games they win, the companies they ‘Like’ and the actions their friends take, said people familiar with the matter.”

I’m going to assume that such a version of the feed would be one option for viewing the feed. As it stands now, Facebook gives you options like Top News, Most Recent, Status Updates, Photos, Links, Pages, Questions, and of course various lists you may have set up yourself. It gives you plenty of ways to filter the News Feed, but not so much a way to get a completely unfiltered version. Most Recent is the closest thing, but even that isn’t 100% unfiltered.

It will be interesting to see if Google opens up an unfiltered version of the Google+ stream. Google’s “circles” only add to the filter bubble concept, for the reasons we discussed here. People will be more inclined to share with select groups of people, leaving those outside of the circles potentially missing out on interesting content. Google even filters the streams for specific Circles too though. You don’t see every update from everyone in every Circle.

Expanded “Like” Button Functionality

According to the WSJ report, “Facebook is also working on expanding its ‘Like’ button to include other gestures that marketers and third-party developers can create, said these people. Consumers could share information about the products they want to buy or the places they want to go, for instance.”

While we don’t know exactly what this will entail, simply giving consumers more ways to share your brand/products could be huge for businesses, particularly in combination with an unfiltered News Feed, which should by itself get your brand in front of more eyeballs automatically.

As it stands right now, there are things you have to take into consideration if you want to optimize for the News Feed, and “EdgeRank,” which is the basis for Facebook’s news feed algorithm. Earlier this year, we looked at a report from Buddy Media, a company that’s built a business out of creating Facebook tools for businesses and counts a bunch of major brands among its clients. They suggested the following ten tips for boosting your chances of getting seen in the news feed:

1. Ask questions
2. Post games and trivia
3. Interact with fan engagement
4. Incorporate wall sapplets (polls, coupons, etc.)
5. Incorporate relevant photos
6. Relate to current events
7. Incorporate videos
8. Post content for time-sensitive campaigns
9. Include links within posts
10. Be explicit in your posts

If Facebook’s unfiltered News Feed is just an option, you’re probably still going to want to consider these things, because it’s still going to be helpful to get into the filtered feed as well. Plus, these things are simply good for engaging users.

Do you want to see Facebook offer an unfiltered option? Let us know in the comments.

Should Facebook Give Users an Unfiltered News Feed?
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  • Michael

    NO filtering – the readership doesn’t know what it doesn’t know – and the filter keeps them in the dark!

  • http://www.walkupright.com Eric

    I agree with Michael– no filtering! There are so many sociological ramifications of never seeing info that’s “beyond your bubble.” Studies show this reduces our ability to come to our own conclusions, individually. Have you ever watched a news channel on TV that only tells people what they want to hear? So dangerous! Not to get all serious about it, but your defense of Google/FB filtering is pretty reckless (although I realize that SEO has made some info rise to the top in a manipulated way). Colleagues of mine are producing a documentary on this social phenomenon, so I’m extra interested in this topic :)

  • http://www.platinumlynx.net Chas

    Wasn’t this story supposed to be about Fox, or MSNBC? Like Facebook and Google are my premier news sources~ LOL. People on Facebook are more concerned about how many pigs farmer Joey collected, or, who slept with Jenny last night.

  • http://www.metanym.com/milton-keynes MarkFL

    I don’t want to be filtered but I don’t want huge amounts of noise either and that’s the conundrum so I would like FB to let me set my own filters.

  • http://LynneModranski.com Lynne

    I agree, I’d like to filter my own news feed. Filter out some people (or groups of people) and filter out profanity.

    But . . . we’re used to it, the Media has been filtering our news feed for more than 100 years . . . we only get what they want us to know. It just seems worse, cause FB is filtering stuff from people we actually know!

  • holly

    I have close friends and family who do not use Facebook as often as others. They end up being filtered out and I miss their posts. I wish Facebook wouldn’t decide which posts I get to see.

  • http://dealchalet.com William

    Let ME choose what gets filtered. The algorithm doesn’t always know what *I* like.

  • http://dealchalet.com William

    In Facebook, scroll to the very bottom of your news feed, and click on the “Edit Options” link on the right. In the pop-up window, switch from “Show posts from: Friends and pages you interact with most” to “Show posts from: All of your friends and pages.”

    Then, whenever you start your Facebook session, you’ll need to select “Most Recent” in the top right of your feed (off from “Top Stories”).

    Now, you’ll see all your friends’ posts.

    • http://www.facebook.com/greensboronc Greensboro

      Hey thanks for the tip

  • http://www.broadbanddigitalmedia.com Ron Leddy

    Facebook should buttout entirely. Here’s a point of interest for you about Facebook that so far, I haven’t heard anybody mention.
    The weekend of the Norway shooting Facebook loaded up with created page in the name of Andres Behring Breivik. I estimate that there were at least 150 by Sunday July 24, 2011. I had a page with Breivik’s name attached to it also. By Monday evening, July 25, 2011 every page was gone from Fracebook except two of them: “F–k Andres Behring Breivik” and “Andres Behring Breivik Is A Terrorist,” these two pages remain.
    My entire Facebook account was deactivated without any explaination. One of this deleted page named after Breivik had 10,000 Likes in just two days, I posted some of my art work of Breivik on this page and got 1,500 Facebook Impressions (I’m not sure what they’re good for).
    I would like to know what happened that weekend to all the pages, and why the two that remained were allowed to do so. Facebook won’t respond, I tweeted them for an answer on Twitter.

  • http://webpronews.com Mel Steiger

    I do not want the news sensored. The media is doing to much in controlling what news ifnormation is published and what is not. I do not approve of their practice in doing this. The news should portray life as it is, and not provide a sterilized view of it.

    I do not like to watch channels that censor the images or the news. If the views are gross, then tell us and we can change channels or get the children out of the area. Let us see the world as it is. Thank you.

  • http://www.jbotos.com John

    Facebook should allow the user to adjust their settings at any time based on the users personal preference which may change on a weekly basis, freedom of choice.

  • http://MyNextSmartphone.com ggreenwood4

    There should NEVER be ANY NEWS CENSORSHIP or FILTERING! Everyone should be able to filter their own news feeds. With someone else censoring what news I get get to read is immoral! I have a RIGHT to get the WHOLE TRUTH/NEWS and not someone elses version of the truth/news!

  • Corrine Gurry

    Filtering the search results of Google and Facebook users is insulting to say the least. Respect your users, and therefore the victims of your massive advertising attacks, to decide what sites we want to see and let us be free to travel where we want without draconian measures to ‘aim’ us at specific advertisers. We are a lot smarter than you think and we vote with our wallets. And regarding i interferance correcting politically incorrect (by i-its standards) spelling or references, again we vote with our wallets – no shut!

  • JoeH

    Not surprised that they have been filtering our content! It is sad that we can not trust providers with allowing us to see everything! They want to sway our opinion their way instead of allowing us to have our own voice! Typical in today’s world! Facebook will start to loose subscribers and they will eventually fall if it continues!

  • Brent

    Filtered advertising is one thing (assuming you look at advertising in the first place), but filtered news is extremely dangerous–I’m totally opposed both for myself and for everyone else.

  • http://www.halfabubbleout.com Joe HaBO

    I think a choice for users would be the best choice in this situation. After all they did label it a “News” feed. On the other hand with the option to have a free flowing news feed I think it is important to give people the option to say how much they want to open up the spout of information. People are being bombarded with information on a daily basis and sometimes having too much content only complicated things.

  • http://www.trafficact.com.au TrafficAct_Digi

    Fully support the move to an unfiltered news feed. At the moment I end up living in a reality bubble defined by facebook. I might like certain pages, just because I need to stay in the loop. But if I don’t interact with them, they drop out of my news feed. My interaction is not always an indication of interest.

  • Jacob Laney

    Yes I think unfiltered news is especially important. Very disappointed in this country. We wonder why our economy is so bad? We preach freedom but it is censored freedom not true freedom. We will all be slaves to the man one day.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ivo_campos Ivo Campos

    I think that having a filter of information in our News Feed is positive because, as you mention in your post, it is impossible to deal with the big amount of content we are daily exposed.

    I guess Facebook is already changing the algorithm as I have seen some changes in the information I receive now comparing with what I was given before, especially more Pages information. However, it’s user’s role to improve the content he receives by hiding permanently or not the contact or page information in the News Feed. By doing so, Facebook will learn which information is more interesting for us.

  • http://az5.bravehost.com/lyrics2.html jmrjmrm@fastmail.es

    Hell to the NO!

  • GuyBfromMesaAZ

    Well my thought on a unfiltered feed on Facebook is no, and the reason why is I am already annoyed with all the crap that shows up when I only want to see what my peeps are doing. But at the same time i don’t get to see info from pages I am more interested in then others. Example: I am actually interested in Africa’s current situations, and thought by liking various pages I would get that in my news feed. However I also added a bunch of movies and music pages which is all that has come up since I liked all that stuff. Now it would be nice instead of having a feed of everything I have liked, why don’t they make a way of when creating a page, post, or what ever, allow you to tag it for a particular category, and then sub-catagories. And as far as the news goes, break it up on one page and allow you to choose the category you wanna see then once you choose a category, display the sub catagories along with the news feed from the entire main category(unfiltered). And also have a view all(unfiltered) as well for all the news for those that like to be bombarded with news about everything. Granted that would take some work but I know the results would please the masses. And one other feature to include, if you want a particular category/subcategory to display at your home page put a button to add that specific subject on your homepage of Facebook, and get rid of the adds and replace it with your news. That way advertising can become a job market for people again. Not machines that think I care about how much godaddy has domains for, if I need something I will go buy it. That’s my thought on the new on Facebook.

  • http://www.aboutus.org Kristina Weis

    Yes, I want an unfiltered feed! Why the F would they give us “Most Recent” and the ability to hide stories from individual people from the news feed if they’re just going to decide for us?

  • http://www.webhosting.uk.com/ Rachael

    In my opinion, filtering the information is essential to mark the relevancy of the content. If the content is filtered, people can rely on it and implement it therefore I do not see any problem with the ‘filter bubble’. If the information present on the prominent websites like Google and Facebook is not filtered, it will also affect the importance of these websites. In terms of expanding the ‘Like’ button, I completely favour this move…If users get to express opinions/information in that section, it will enhance the importance and I think it will also give a better informative insight on any particular post.

  • http://bisnisemasmasadepan.blogspot.com wiradnyana

    Good information about google and facebook…….

  • http://www.directoryurllist.com maddy

    Ya. Its better to have a filter feature by the user, Wall is disturbed with latest updates of every. And thers no filter from whom we have to get update. My opinion is to have filter the stuff.

    Thanks for the post of discussion about Filter. Hope social media sites may consider this.

  • http://www.dotcrush.com Khusheed

    Intresting facts… love your writing skills… I’m subscriber of webpronews and really worth it… I wish I could publish this article on my website http://www.dotcrush.com If agree Chri please feel free to email me to publish your article on my web.

    Thanks and regards

  • http://pilotincanada.com Pilot License

    I really do think it’s taken advantage of.

  • http://Facebook Susan von Cluck

    I do NOT want my news feed filtered. This is disturbing to me. I removes my purpose for being on Facebook and receiving up to date and real time news from my friends and loved ones. DON’T filter my news feeds!!!

  • Candy Hawblitz

    I DO NOT think the news feed should EVER be filtered! It goes back to a quote from Voltaire..”I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it!” This is a FREE country, and if we cannot express our viewpoints on Facebook, we will found another site where there IS free speech. I am an atheist and have received a few threatening remarks. If I FEEL the remark is a murder threat, then I report that person to Facebook. Other than that, we should be able to write whatever we wish on the feed.

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