Facebook is finally restoring the chronological feed

Facebook on mobile

Facebook's love of algorithms has meant that there has been a highly polarizing focus on recommended content in users' feeds rather than posts from friends, family and pages of genuine interest. But this is changing.

In a move that will please millions of Facebook users who have become increasingly frustrated with the way recommended content is pushed into their feed, Mark Zuckerberg has announced that iOS and Android users are being treated to feed split over two tabs. While one of these will remain populated with content surfaced by Facebook's "discovery engine", the other is a chronological feed of content from friends, groups and Pages.

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In a post announcing the change, Zuckerberg says: "One of the most requested features for Facebook is to make sure people don't miss friends' posts. So today we're launching a Feeds tab where you can see posts from your friends, groups, Pages and more separately in chronological order".

"The app will still open to a personalized feed on the Home tab, where our discovery engine will recommend the content we think you'll care most about. But the Feeds tab will give you a way to customize and control your experience further".

One of the reasons Facebook receives so many requests for assurances that they won't miss posts from friends and family is because this is precisely the sort of content that ends up getting buried by the site's algorithm. There is, after all, not a great deal of money to be made from showing a user the latest cat photos uploaded by an aunt.

In a separate post, Facebook's owner Meta explains the changes:

We understand you may want more options when it comes to sorting and seeing your content. There are times you might know just what you’re looking for -- say, the latest posts from your groups -- or you may want to encounter fresh, entertaining content. As Home becomes more of a discovery engine for you to find and follow new content and creators through recommendations, the Feeds tab provides an easy way to access the content from the people and communities you're already connected with on Facebook. There are no Suggested For You posts in Feeds and ads are included.

Starting today, some people will see Feeds as a tab in their shortcut bar; on iOS, this bar is found at the bottom of the app, and on Android, it’s found at the top. We expect these updates to be rolled out globally over the next week. The tabs in the shortcut bar change based on the parts of the app you’re using the most. You can also personalize and pin a tab in your shortcut bar, making its placement permanent.

The company also talks about the Home tab which is, it says, "where discovery happens":

We’re introducing the name Home for the tab you see when you first open the Facebook app. This is where you will discover new content through recommendations in addition to connecting with your friends and family. From Home, you can also create a Reel, see what your connections are sharing on Feed and in Stories, and build community over new and shared interests. Your Home tab is uniquely personalized to you through our machine learning ranking system. This system takes into account thousands of signals to help cut through the clutter and rank content in the order we think you will find most valuable. We’re investing in AI to best serve recommended content in this ranked experience.

While Home is where you'll increasingly find community through your passions and interests, you can continue to stay up-to-date on the people and communities you care about most in Feeds.

It remains to be seen whether or not these changes are enough to keep users happy, but the fact that it is the algorithm-powered Home tab that will be displayed by default means that many people will actually end up seeing more "recommended" content instead of what they are actually interested in.

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