Facebook began as a way for college students to connect outside of dorms, classroom and frat parties, but it has evolved into the top way many people get news and information about whats happening in the world. Now, the giant social network is changing the way it organizes your timeline to emphasize what your friends post and less about what publishers want you to see.
"We're always working to better understand what is interesting and informative to you personally, so those stories appear higher up in your feed," Facebook News Feed manager Adam Mosseri wrote in a blog explaining the changes.
While it sounds noble, it likely could shrink the so-called "Facebook bubble" that is blamed for increasing the political isolation that prevents you from understanding why your non-friends think and believe the way they do. In other words, you will be even less likely to be exposed to information and ideas that you don't already have. This social net bubble has been partly blamed for the unusually heated 2016 presidential campaign.
Is your Facebook "friends" list loaded with people who share your shame political views? Are they mostly from a similar background? Do you "unfriend" someone because they post articles you disagree with? If so, you live in the bubble which keeps you from having an understanding of why anyone could not agree with you. Is it a good thing in a diverse society?
Facebook has a business to promote. The more time you spend on your news feed, the more money the company can make on selling ads. Mosseri wrote that the changes were made so "people can see what they care about first, and don't miss important stuff from their friends. If the ranking is off, people don't engage, and leave dissatisfied."
The change may be bad news for publishers who get a large percentage of their web traffic through Facebook. No longer will their posts appear on timelines just because they have a large following on their business pages. They'll have to lure you and your friends into sharing the posts, which could mean more "click bait" headlines. This may not be healthy for your reading habits, considering the success fake publishers have had getting hoax stories to go viral.
Lead Stories, developer of the social media analysis system Trendolizer, has created a series of websites -- served up in an app -- designed to pop the Facebook filter bubble by presenting the hottest 30 stories in several categories. These "tides" are based on real time measurements from a global database -- and not just Facebook. The result are news feeds that present information and views you would not see on your Facebook page since your non-friends' sharing is factored.
And it updates each minute. The Trendolizer system recalculates what's hot every 60 seconds. PoliTide.com covers politics; StoryTide.com offers the top stories overall; CelebriTide.com has entertainment and celebrity content; TubeTide.com presents the 30 hottest videos on a range of social platforms. There are other "Tide" sites on the way. These sites can all be accessed through the PoliTide app for smartphones, downloadable on iTunes for Apple devices and Google Play for Android devices.