Facebook fiddles with its site all the time. Whether that means offering a “snooze button” when a friend is being obnoxious or, uh, asking for your nudes to prevent revenge porn from being posted, they’re constantly tweaking and fixing things. Now, to fight the fake news problem that was so relevant in the last election, they’re completely changing how your Facebook Wall will work.
Your friends, your family, and the stuff you want to talk to them about is going to be pushed to the top of your Wall, and everything else will run a distant second. This seems to be a clear statement: The social part of social media is about to be greatly prioritized.
Facebook is unusually blunt about what’s in and what’s out, in their update on the changes. The standards have shifted, considerably over the years and this is where the company’s head is at today:
Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses…Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.
If you’re not on Facebook to deal with your family, this can be changed in your settings. If you look on the left, next to News Feed you’ll see three dots. Click them, and you can choose who you see first when the site loads — whether it’s friends, family, or the pages you follow.
You could ensure you see Uproxx at the top of your feed every day! Just saying!
Brilliant choices aside, there is one flaw here Facebook will likely be called on the carpet for. Part of the problem of fake news is and always has been that it tells people what they want to hear, and people are naturally going to talk about the things they most want to hear parroted back. So if people see only the public content they talk about, but that content is still generated by an Estonian clickfarm with no interest in accurate reporting, then the problem isn’t solved so much as just heavily concentrated. Our echo chambers are still there, they’re just tighter.
Similarly, as anybody who has dealt with a relative’s politics on Facebook can tell you, sometimes this stuff just appears on your Wall whether you want it to or not. This fix is a start — because interaction is valued over random tagging — but Facebook may not be able to solve its user problems with algorithm changes alone.