Facebook recently released a big upgrade to the options for sharing information to friends through the news feed, that focused on making privacy settings more flexible. Now, it may be looking to provide additional options for what information users see from their friends. A screenshot sent in by Inside Facebook reader Jan Krems shows a test apparently happening now on some accounts, that allows you to “Choose What You See.”
According to a message that users are seeing about the feature, options for filtering include regular material like photos and status updates, additional information including comments and check-ins, and major life events like job changes and family births. The message links to a URL that is currently not live for those users seeing the message, according to our reader. You can see for yourself, here. Presumably, the “subscriptions” link described by our reader would contain a more comprehensive administrative view of each users friends, the current sharing settings of their feeds, and options to adjust.
Before we get any further, we should provide the usual caveats about why one must not assume that this change is a fact: we have not been able to independently reproduce this message on our accounts, the screenshot may be fake, Facebook may decide not to launch the feature as seen, etc. We’ve asked Facebook for comment and we’ll update if we hear back.
All that said, we’ll note that this type of interface is not wholly new. In previous years, Facebook provided a set of sliders that allowed users to manually adjust the number of various types of posts. It since moved towards an algorithmically-determined feed, and then a raw stream of updates, and then a hybrid of the two — that, as we covered last week in detail, is still undergoing significant changes. A variety of other companies that provide social feeds, notably FriendFeed, have also experimented with more granular options for what types of content you can consume from friends. However, Facebook’s previous filters didn’t allow you to specify the posts you saw by type, by individual friend.
Facebook has continued to change the news feed as it tries to find a balance between simplicity and flexibility. Many users might not care about granular filtering, but those who are trying to keep close (or distant) track of specific friends should find the new feature useful.
Given the recent rollout of changes to how publishing works, perhaps we’ll see changes soon to how information can be consumed. We’ll be covering as we learn more.