Tech

Facebook has a new tool that explains why you're seeing certain posts on your News Feed

Key Points
  • The new feature shows users the reasoning behind Facebook's ranking of posts from friends, pages and groups on their News Feed.
  • It includes information on how often they interact with that post's author, how often they interact with the post's medium and the post's popularity.
  • Facebook and other platforms have been accused of not being transparent enough about the way their algorithms work to recommend certain content.

Facebook is rolling out a new tool that lets users find out why they're seeing certain posts on their News Feed.

The new feature, called "Why am I seeing this post?", essentially does what it says on the tin, showing a user the reasoning behind Facebook's ranking of posts from friends, pages and groups on their timeline.

"This is the first time that we've built information on how ranking works directly into the app," Ramya Sethuraman, product manager at Facebook, said in a blog post explaining the new tool.

The new button can be found in the drop down menu on the right hand corner of a post. Once clicked on, it will expand to show a user how the post has been tailored specifically to them.

That includes information on how often they interact with that post's author, how often they interact with the post's medium — whether it be videos, photos or links — and the popularity of the post compared to others.

Facebook is rolling out a new tool to let users find out why they're seeing certain posts on their News Feed.
Facebook

Users will also be shown options to let them tell Facebook whether they want to see posts like it again in future. The controls include the option to unfollow a person, page or group, edit News Feed preferences or manage privacy settings.

It's an expansion on an existing tool for ads that lets users see an advertiser's rationale for targeting them. That tool, called "Why am I seeing this ad?" will now include information on whether their Facebook profile data matched details on an advertiser's database.

Facebook is also expanding on its "Why am I seeing this ad?" feature.
Facebook

It previously only included information about how advertisers targeted users based on their age, gender, location, interests or website visits.

"Both of these updates are part of our ongoing investment in giving people more context and control across Facebook," Sethuraman said.

Facebook and other platforms like YouTube and Twitter have been accused of not being transparent enough about the way their algorithms work to recommend certain content.

And Facebook has been hit with a series of other other criticisms over how its platform handles user privacy and attempts to interfere in elections.

The company was hit by much scrutiny last year over how it allowed the data of 87 million users to be improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica for targeting users during the U.S. 2016 presidential election.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg recently called for more regulation of the internet, placing particular emphasis on curbing terrorist propaganda and hate speech, new laws on online political advertising and a global framework for privacy similar to that of the European Union's data privacy regulation.

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