Facebook wants you to spend more time with your friends and family—at least on the internet.
On Wednesday, the curator of our online social lives announced plans to change its News Feed algorithm to prioritize posts from users’ friends and family members. This means that other types of content (like, ahem, posts from Real Future) are less likely to float to the top of your feed.
“Facebook was built on the idea of connecting people with their friends and family,” the company wrote in a blog post on the News Feed’s “values.” “That is still the driving principle of News Feed today.”
Perhaps this is some not-so-subtle messaging from Facebook CEO and new dad Mark Zuckerberg that we all need to get our priorities straight and focus less on BuzzFeed listicles and more on catching up with the people we love.
But if you’d like to maintain control over your News Feed instead of letting Facebook dictate how many baby photos you see on a daily basis, there are a couple of tools you can implement to keep the flow of chubby cheeks under control.
The first option, of course, is to simply “unfollow” anyone you’re friends with that you’d rather not get regular updates on. You remain friends with the person, but this feature keeps someone from appearing in your feed altogether.
A lesser known (and very useful) feature is “see first.” This makes sure that if you love reading posts from Fusion, for example, they will always appear towards the top of your feed, even if Facebook’s algorithm is trained to generally prefer posts from friends. You can head into your News Feed settings to choose your favs:
Alternatively, you can go to a friend’s page, click on the “Following” button and then choose “See first.”
Facebook wrote two blog posts about the changes to News Feed. One warned publishers that their Pages might see a dip in traffic due to the new emphasis on posts from friends. The other explained why Facebook was making the changes. It subtly responded to the backlash over reports that Facebook was giving preference to liberal news over conservative news in its Trending Topics module and the wider concern over Facebook’s power to curate what kinds of information we see.
“We are not in the business of picking which issues the world should read about,” the company wrote. “We are in the business of connecting people and ideas — and matching people with the stories they find most meaningful.”
The future of News Feed will likely emphasize more tools like “see first” alongside tweaks to make its standard algorithm sharper. The company promised as much in its announcement, writing that it will “continue building easy-to-use and powerful tools to give you the most personalized experience.”
Facebook, it seems, has acknowledged the limits of using an algorithm to suss out what each one of its unique users wants. Facebook, after all, might be able to tell that you always read those political rants from your crazy uncle Alan. But it can’t tell how much you regret it after you do.