Facebook is rolling out a new way to filter the news feed. Users with access to the redesigned feature see a drop-down arrow beside their Most Recent news feed tab on the home page, revealing filters for status updates, Photos, Links, Pages, Games and friend lists. Facebook has implemented different designs of news feed filters over the years to help users view updates of specific content types or from certain subsets of their friends. As users add more friends and Likes, a filtering mechanism is key to keeping the feed relevant.
Use Cases for Filters
The first listed filter is for games, replicating a similar functionality found in the Games Dashboard but in a more accessible spot. Facebook offered application filters in 2008 as a way to help gamers sort important game content out from personal updates, but later removed them. There’s no way to explicitly filter games out of the news feed for gamers, though Facebook has made it so the only game stories non-gamers see are for when their friends discover and install new games.
The status updates filter creates an easy-to-consume, imageless stream more akin to Twitter. Without variations in formatting, the filter offers a less eye-straining read. Conversely, the Photos filter is visually stimulating, and is enjoyable to browse while otherwise occupied, such as during lunch.
The Links filter gives users previews of articles they can read off-site, as well as videos that can be viewed in-line. The filter recreates much of the value offered by custom social news site PostPost, which assembles a Huffington Post-style feed from the links posted to Facebook by a user’s friends.
The Pages filter helps user separate personal posts of friends from broadcasted posts by official entities on Facebook. As more news sites like CNN and The Daily Beast use Facebook to distribute newly published articles, the Pages feed could serve as new form of RSS reader, but which includes the opportunity of discussion and quick sharing.
The 5% of users who create friend lists should be happy to see they weren’t deprecated in this update. By creating a list of a their closest friends and filtering by it, users are free to form friendships with weak ties or professional associates without diluting their feed. Since Page updates are included in the status updates filter, the only way to create a “friends-only” feed is to add all of them to a friend list.
Previously, users could choose friend lists to filter the news feed by clicking the Friends navigation link in the left home page sidebar. Since friends lists have been removed from this panel for everyone, those awaiting the roll out currently have no way to filter by friend lists.
By placing the filters in the same place as the tabs for switching between a real-time stream and Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm-sorted Top News, users will filter their feeds more often. These more prominent options can make consuming the feed less exhausting, and lead to greater engagement, more Likes and Comments, and more time spent on Facebook.