Every time you open Facebook, your news feed shows a personalised stream of the latest posts from friends, people, and the pages you follow. However, the posts that appear here are not strictly in chronological order. Facebook selects posts using a closely guarded and constantly shifting algorithm, effectively controlling exactly what you see in your news feed.
Why is Facebook filtering my news feed?
When Facebook first launched the news feed feature in 2006, it was completely unrestricted, displaying every single post from the people you were connected to as soon as it was published.
However, this approach became an issue as the sheer volume of stories appearing in everyone’s news feed became overwhelming. According to Facebook, when the average person visits their news feed, there are around 1,500 stories waiting to be seen. If you have several hundred friends, it could be as many as 10,000. As most people don’t have the time to read through this number of posts, Facebook uses an algorithm to prioritise the posts that each user is likely to be interested in. Most users will only ever see the top few hundred.
What is Facebook?
How does the Facebook algorithm work?
Facebook’s news feed algorithm has evolved over the past few years from a relatively simple sorting formula to a complex pattern-recognition algorithm that takes thousands of factors into account. The algorithm works by ranking news feed posts in what it considers to be the order you’re most likely to find each post interesting.
Posts are ranked using lots of different algorithm factors including: how often you interact with a particular friend, page or public figure; what kind of content you’ve liked in the past; how many likes, shares and comments individual posts have received; and whether a post has been hidden or shared a lot.
Can I control what I see in my Facebook news feed?
Although Facebook’s algorithm governs what you see in your news feed, the social media giant does offer some controls for tweaking and optimising content including:
Select friends and pages to see first
Ensure you never miss posts from particular friends and pages by selecting what you’d like to see at the top of your news feed. You can select up to 30 people or pages to see first.
If you're accessing Facebook on a computer, click the down arrow in the top-right corner of any Facebook page and select News Preferences, and then Prioritise who to see first. Tap on a friend’s profile picture or a page to see their posts first. You’ll then see any new posts they’ve shared at the top of news feed with a small star indicating they’re a priority. The rest of your news feed can be scrolled below as normal.
If you're using the Facebook app, click the three lines ≡ that indicate the menu;, click Settings & Privacy, then Settings and then News Feed preferences.
Unfollow people to hide posts
If you’re not interested in a friend’s posts, you can stop them appearing in your News Feed by unfollowing them. The good news is that they won’t know you’ve unfollowed them and they’ll still be listed as one of your friends. In your news feed Preferences, click Unfollow people to hide their posts and then select a person, page or group. Alternatively, visit their personal profile page, click the Following dropdown button and select Unfollow, an option which usually appears at the end of the list.
How to unfriend someone on Facebook
Hide Facebook posts
Click the down arrow in the top-right corner of any post you don’t want to see, and click Hide post. Facebook will remember you did this, and endeavour to show you less of the same. At this point you can also choose to unfollow your friend; or, if the offending post was shared from a third party, you can choose to hide all from that page instead.
Organise your Facebook friends
By moving people to your Acquaintances list, you’ll reduce the amount of content you see from them in your news feed, leaving more room to see posts from close friends and family. Go to facebook.com/friends/organize and it will walk you through the process.
Be safe online with this guide to the Facebook 'Like' scam
Enjoyed this article? Why not sign up for our Technology and Motoring newsletter?