As users increasingly check Facebook from phones and tablets, the social network is placing more ads in the mobile feed. Although the company says it is monitoring ad performance and user sentiment, two important feedback mechanisms are either missing or hidden on most mobile versions of Facebook: “hide” and “mark as spam.”
These options, which are available on every sponsored or organic story within the desktop feed, are inconsistent when it comes to mobile. Mobile ads are already a $3-million-a-day business for Facebook, but for the company to truly get a sense of how users feel about ads and other content in their feed, there needs to be a clear way for them to provide negative feedback. As it stands now, the social network is likely missing important data and in some cases may be getting false-positive signals when users try to mark a story as spam but end up clicking into it instead.
For instance, on m.facebook.com, users have to tap on the Likes/Comments section of a post, which will take them to a new screen where they can tap a button in the top right corner and then select “hide story” or “report/mark as spam.” If no one has Liked or commented on a story, there is no way to provide this negative feedback. If the story is a photo, users have to tap a small “report photo” link below the image because no button appears in the top right.
From the native iOS app, users can tap almost anywhere on a post — as long as they don’t click a link or click to view a photo full size — and be taken to a screen where they can tap the button in the top right corner. Here they have an option to “report/mark as spam” but not to hide it.
In the native Android app, there is no way to provide this type of feedback on most posts because there is a Like button in the top right. There is a small “report photo” link on photo posts that users tap to view. After reporting a photo, users can indicate why they did so, including saying the image is spam. There is no such option on text-only or link-based posts.
Across all mobile platforms, the new “Pages You May Like” module or mobile app install ads do not offer any opportunity for negative feedback. These units don’t have an exact equivalent on desktop, but with sidebar ads, for instance, users can click an X to hide an ad and say why they did so. They can also choose to hide all ads from a particular advertiser. This is not an option on mobile.
Similarly, some Open Graph stories in the mobile feed do not have the same feedback options as they do on desktop, where users can hide individual stories or all stories from a particular app like Pinterest or Foursquare.
Facebook uses clicks, Likes, comments, hides, spam reports and other factors to improve its News Feed algorithms and to understand how users feel about new features and content. Without intuitive ways to provide negative feedback from mobile, users cannot give Facebook these important signals that can be used to improve their experience.