Facebook’s Revamped News Feed Aspires To Be A Personalized Newspaper

By Justin Lafferty 

In an effort to clean up the clutter, Facebook introduced a redesigned News Feed Thursday. Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, ironically enough, compared the company’s vision to that of a newspaper. If users just want to see stories about Wall Street, they can flip to the business section. On this new Facebook News Feed, if users just want to see posts from their friends, they can simply select that, and their news feeds will only be populated by their personal connections. Facebook feels that this redesign will make it easier for users to access and read what they want.

Zuckerberg told the assembled media at Thursday’s announcement that the most commonly posted stories on the News Feed are photos, so the company wanted to make sure that this redesign was visually striking, making use of every pixel on the screen — especially when users interact with photos.

The News Feed has a new right-hand menu. From this menu, users can also select which groups of connections they want to see in the News Feed, whether it’s friends, pages, specific lists, or people they’ve subscribed to. Also interesting is the fact that users can select to see all photos that their friends (as well as pages they have liked) have posted.

The photos feed includes not only photos uploaded directly to Facebook, but pictures from users who have connected their Instagram accounts to Facebook, as well. With this feed, users can also see which users have recently changed their profile photos.

A Facebook spokesperson said that in the future, the right-hand menu may include more options, such as see all friends’ links and videos, but for now, the social network is testing these options as the most relevant.

Facebook confirmed to AllFacebook that ads such as sponsored stories can show up in any feed, even the all friends feed.

Facebook told reporters that even though News Feed is getting an aesthetic change, the algorithm that determines who sees which posts at which time will not be changed. Facebook Tech Lead Chris Struhar spoke with AllFacebook regarding what the new News Feed means for pages:

I think this is going to be a good thing for pages because they now have a space where people can go and see just the stuff that the pages are posting. So when people want to browse the public content that’s available and see the best news articles or things about the topics they care about, they now have a space where they can do that. So we think that this should be a good thing for pages and all people that are publishing content to Facebook.

Zuckerberg repeatedly used the analogy of a newspaper when discussing the redesigned News Feed. When you pick up a newspaper, it’s rare that you’ll read it front to back, which is what the old News Feed (kind of) represented. Odds are, when you’ve got a paper in your hands, you already know that you want to read about last night’s basketball game, see what’s going on in your city this weekend, or play the crossword.

Facebook now takes that same mentality to the News Feed. When users just want to see posts from their friends, or close friends, or pages, or updates about games — they can do that now.

Zuckerberg explained to reporters how Facebook’s mission for News Feed is to be like a personalized newspaper:

News Feed is one of the most important services that we’ve built. It’s all the things that your friends are doing, and it puts them right in front of you so you can see it in one place. If you look at the history of News Feed, you can think about it as just a single stream of content, but our goal is actually a lot broader. What we’re trying to do is give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper we can. We believe that the best personalized newspaper should have a broad diversity of content. It should have high-quality public content from world-renowned sources, and it should also have socially and locally relevant updates from family, friends, and the people around you. It should also enable you to drill into any topic that you want to discuss.

One other major change pertains to chat. Facebook moved the chat menu from the right to the left and compacted it. When users mouse over the left-hand menu, it pops out and connects them to the people they want to talk with and pages they manage.

Here are some more examples of how News Feed stories will become more visual:

Facebook is rolling out the new News Feed starting Thursday. Click here to get on the wait list. The rollout will start now on desktop, but it will not be available for mobile devices for a couple more weeks, likely with the next wave of native application updates. It appears that the iPhone and iPad will be the first to get the News Feed, with Android following soon after.

Readers: What do you think of the redesign?