For the past few years Facebook has come under fire for the manner in which it allows disturbing or harmful content to be shared on its platform before being addressed or taken down.
Facebook Live in particular has been at the centre of numerous controversies, with the latest being the Christchurch Mosque shootings last month.
While the firm relies on its algorithm and community of moderators to do much of the policing on the platform, it has introduced a new feature which could help fight the spread of unsuitable or misleading content on the site.
This comes in the form of a “Why am I seeing this post?” feature, which is similar to the “Why am I seeing this ad?” one that Facebook introduced in 2014.
To that end it will have a dropdown that will give users more information as to why a particular post has appeared in their News Feed.
“The goal of News Feed is to show people the posts that are most relevant to them. ‘Why am I seeing this post?’, which can be found in the drop down menu in the right hand corner of a post, explains how your past interactions impact the ranking of posts in your News Feed,” writes Ramya Sethuraman, product manager at Facebook.
In particular, the feature will give users more information pertaining to:
- Why you’re seeing a certain post in your News Feed — for example, if the post is from a friend you made, a Group you joined, or a Page you followed.
- What information generally has the largest influence over the order of posts, including: (a) how often you interact with posts from people, Pages or Groups; (b) how often you interact with a specific type of post, for example, videos, photos or links; and (c) the popularity of the posts shared by the people, Pages and Groups you follow.
- Shortcuts to controls, such as See First, Unfollow, News Feed Preferences and Privacy Shortcuts, to help you personalise your News Feed.
It’s good to see Facebook finally give users a tool that can hopefully offer up greater transparency as to why content is appearing on the New Feed, but there still remains one aspect that’s out of the firm’s control – the users themselves.
The effectiveness of the “Why am I seeing this post?” feature is only as strong as the level of scrutiny that a user applies to the content that appears on their Feed.
As such, they need to take a more objective role in how they view and share content on Facebook, as the new feature is not a cure-all.
Nevertheless it’s still good to see in place.