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Social Networking

Facebook: Now With Even Less Social Networking!

I’ve been wondering lately why some people seem to have vanished from my Facebook news feed, and why when I see some posts on my feed I have to hit the “View all x comments” switch or only the comments contributed by my friends appear. Makes for a very disjointed reading experience when you can only see one person’s set of comments in a thread!

As it turns out this is a new feature rolled out February 11th – unannounced, and turned on by default.  Now the news feed only shows items from profiles you’ve recently interacted with.   The only advantage I can see for this is for people who’s friends list is out of control because they see it as some kind of WoW quest to pump up their friends’ list count, and for people who use it as a gaming platform and so have added a multitude of ‘friends’ that just so they can play a game.  This type of filtering defeats the purpose of a social networking site, as my friends who are only on Facebook infrequently or don’t post much now might as well not be on my friends list at all!

To me this perfectly demonstrates how Facebook is no longer primarily being structured as a social networking platform.  Instead, it’s being optimized as a gaming and application platform which of course is what drives those dollars.

This move also takes away the granularity of news feed control.  You used to be able to select “More from” or “Less from” or even “Block” some friends.  Now it’s all posts or none, and you can either show all friends or the ones that you happen to have interacted with recently (however that’s determined).  I suppose it’s good if you’re pitching to the lowest common denominator of your user base and they don’t want to be bothered with or are confused by fine controls, but it certainly drives away or frustrates the people who want to use the site for it’s primary and stated purpose:  social networking.

If I was a gamer, I would probably set up a secondary Facebook profile just for that.  Which is a neat idea that could be incorporated into the platform itself, come to think of it:  you could have ‘aspects’ of your profile that you could switch between.  Switch to the gaming aspect, and only friends grouped by ‘gaming’ appear, switch to another and only ‘serious friends’ would show, etc.  Though perhaps that might be too complex for the user base’s lowest common denominator. 😛

Back to the point!  So how do you get feed items from all your friends and pages, now, solely filtered by the ones you’ve deliberately blocked?  There are two easy but non-obvious ways to do so:

  1. At the top of your news feed, on the right hand side is a “Most Recent” label with a down arrow next to it.  Click on the down arrow and then select “Edit Options”.  You can then change the “Show posts from:” drop down to “All of your friends and pages”.  Click “Save” to exit.

    News Feed - Accessing "Edit Options"

    News Feed - "Edit Options"

  2. At the bottom of your news feed on the right hand side is a link labeled “Edit Options”.  Clicking on that brings you to the same options settings as the first method.  You can then change the “Show posts from:” drop down to “All of your friends and pages”.  Click “Save” to exit.

    News Feed - "Edit Options"

    News Feed - "Edit Options"

Easy enough to fix… once you know what’s going on, and where the settings are located.  Facebook really should have announced and documented this better so that people who actually want to interact with most of their friends list could tune this!  At the very least after this rolled out it could have popped up a notice telling me about the new feature, and asking me if I wanted to turn it on.  Instead with this stealth approach, many of my friends would seem to simply drop off the face of the earth…  and isn’t the primary purpose of Facebook supposed to keep me in touch with those very same friends?  No wait, silly me.  I’d forgotten it was about monetizing the platform, not providing a service of some kind.  Silly, silly me!

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