Facebook has a new tool that explains ‘Why am I seeing this post?’ on your News Feed

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Facebook is rolling out a new tool that lets users find out why they’re seeing certain posts on their News Feed.
KEY POINTS
  • The new feature shows users the reasoning behind Facebook’s ranking of posts from friends, pages and groups on their News Feed.
  • It includes information on how often they interact with that post’s author, how often they interact with the post’s medium and the post’s popularity.
  • Facebook and other platforms have been accused of not being transparent enough about the way their algorithms work to recommend certain content.

Have you ever opened the Facebook application and the first thing you see are the boring posts of friends and wonder why? It has not been an easy way to find out until now.

The new feature, called “Why am I seeing this post?”, essentially does what it says on the tin, showing a user the reasoning behind Facebook’s ranking of posts from friends, pages and groups on their timeline.

The feature is slowly rolling out to all Facebook users, with the company’s expectation that all users should have it by the middle of May.

“This is the first time that we’ve built information on how ranking works directly into the app,” Ramya Sethuraman, product manager at Facebook, said in a blog post explaining the new tool.

Select the three-dot icon in the top-right corner of a post and tap or click on Why am I seeing this post? A popup will provide the reasoning, be it that you have frequently liked posts with photos from that specific friend, or that you’ve clicked on links the person has shared in the past.

That includes information on how often they interact with that post’s author, how often they interact with the post’s medium — whether it be videos, photos or links — and the popularity of the post compared to others.

H/O: Facebook News Feed tool

Users will also be shown options to let them tell Facebook whether they want to see posts like it again in future. The controls include the option to unfollow a person, page or group, edit News Feed preferences or manage privacy settings.

It’s an expansion on an existing tool for ads that lets users see an advertiser’s rationale for targeting them. That tool, called “Why am I seeing this ad?” will now include information on whether their Facebook profile data matched details on an advertiser’s database.

H/O: Facebook News Feed ads
Facebook is also expanding on its “Why am I seeing this ad?” feature.
Facebook

It previously only included information about how advertisers targeted users based on their age, gender, location, interests or website visits.

“Both of these updates are part of our ongoing investment in giving people more context and control across Facebook,” Sethuraman said.

Facebook and other platforms like YouTube and Twitter have been accused of not being transparent enough about the way their algorithms work to recommend certain content.

Facebook provides two different options to manage your news feed. You can unfollow a person, without unfriending them, under the Manage What you See in News Feed section of the “Why am I seeing this post?” popup. Tap on the friend’s name, then choose from Unfollow. Again, unfollowing leaves your friendship in place, and the person won’t be alerted that you’ve unfollowed them.

Alternatively, if you just need a break from someone, you can snooze them. Snoozing a friend will remove their posts from your feed for 30 days. They won’t know they’ve been snoozed. To snooze a friend, tap on the three-dot icon in the top-right corner of one of their posts, then tap Snooze. As you can see in the screenshots above, you can also unfollow a page or friend from this same menu.

When it comes to ads, you can essentially block ads from specific companies, or remove interests and keywords that trigger ads from your profile. When on the “Why am I seeing this ad?” screen, tap or click on the highlighted text in blue and then select hide or remove.

 

The company was hit by much scrutiny last year over how it allowed the data of 87 million users to be improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica for targeting users during the U.S. 2016 presidential election.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg recently called for more regulation of the internet, placing particular emphasis on curbing terrorist propaganda and hate speech, new laws on online political advertising and a global framework for privacy similar to that of the European Union’s data privacy regulation.

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