Facebook is now testing a notification unsubscribe button on news feed posts a user has liked or commented on. It allows users to opt out of notifications for subsequent activity on that post. While users can already go to Account Settings->Notifications to set email and mobile notification preferences, this is the first option that lets users choose what triggers notifications to appear in the globe icon in Facebook’s top navigation bar.
Facebook’s default is for every additional like or comment on a post to trigger a notification. This helps generate more conversation, but it can become obnoxious in some cases, such as when a subsequent exciting, controversial, or off-topic comment or two leads to an avalanche of additional ones. Users have until now had to endure these unwanted notifications or retract their like or comment.
Currently, those seeing this test now have an “Unsubscribe” button next to the timestamp on any post they’ve liked or commented on, reminiscent of FriendFeed’s hide button on posts. The option won’t appear if they haven’t participated.
Facebook has yet to introduce noise-reducing feature to other types of content, such as photos in an album, or a subscribe-without-comment button. The company has tried to keep controls simple — many people haven’t used other noise-filtering tools like the now-removed sliders for types of news feed content, or friends lists. But given how talkative some friends can be, there might be a good portion of the user base who would appreciate more options here.
Overall, notifications are key to getting users to frequently return to Facebook. The site recently enabled browser tab alerts for notifications, messages, and friend requests to increase engagement of users with open but not necessarily visible Facebook tabs, for example, even as it has scaled back third-party notifications and other communication channels in recent months. The company is trying to find the balance between an engaging site and one that is too noisy.