On Facebook News Feed Censorship

There’s been a lot of talk recently about how Facebook is repressing my posts, people aren’t seeing them, OMG Facebook is censoring my news.

Good I say.

Here’s the thing, if you’re on Facebook you’ve probably “liked” a lot of things, from your favourite TV show, to your friends pictures, to your local community library. All those people and things have updates and they all want your attention. Chances are you don’t want to see them.

Now I’m not going to go out on a limb and say that Facebook isn’t evil, but they are (with some notable exceptions) doing what’s best for the users and censoring the news feed to show you things that you are interested in[1].

Chances are that the things you are interested in on Facebook are things like your friends announcing their baby, your mom posting a picture of her new cat, your college friends’ updates, and that sort of thing, not Drobo posting a new blog post about why their RAID technology is the best, the photographer that you follow posting a new image to his portfolio, or a website announcing a new contest (“like us and follow us on twitter to enter!”). The thing is, everyone feels like their posts are important, especially those companies, who would love to have you see everything they post. These are (in general) the ones that are complaining that “Facebook is censoring me, make sure you click our page and select ‘add to interests'”.

If you’re friends or have liked with more than a few people on Facebook, seeing everything on the news stream is going to be overwhelming, and you’ll scroll down three or four pages just to see the last hours updates, which would make the Facebook experience tiring to say the least. Facebook is very smart about retaining engagement with users, and know this, so they have sophisticated algorithms (or at least I assume they do) that let them track what gets your attention and what you do see and engage with, and show you more of that and less of the contest to win a new DSLR (“Just like the page and share this post to enter”).

The thing is it seems that most of the people up in arms about this are companies and journalists, beating the drum that their posts and publications posts aren’t being seen. I have yet to hear a user or friend actually complain about this, unless they’re just parroting back a post about it.

So I say good for Facebook for keeping my news stream (mostly) clean of posts, and good on them for taking money from people who aren’t engaging enough with people to get “real” attention and exchange it for giving them more visibility (even if it is really annoying as the user to see the promoted posts popping up).

Recently the big new Facebook news is the revamped news feed which actually does go to some extents to “fix” the “censorship” issue. Part of the new design is to let you see everything in order (i.e.: no more missed items, but you see everything) as well as separate pages for friends only, companies only, etc.

[1] The exception here is of course the sponsored posts, ads, “8 of your friends like allstate”, and so on that are obvious marketing and ads jammed into your feed.

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