Facebook is trying to increase transparency on its platform with the new ‘Why am I seeing this post?’ feature as well as improvements made to ‘Why am I seeing this ad?’ feature, which was first launched in 2014.
The new ‘Why am I seeing this post?’ is aimed at giving the users increased control over their experience on the social network and the information they consume.
Users can access the new feature via the drop-down menu located on the right-hand corner of a post in the news feed. Clicking on it will reveal your past interactions with posts and how that has influenced the ranking of the post that you’re seeing in the news feed currently.
According to Facebook, the new feature will help users understand and control the posts that are shown in their news feeds from friends, pages and groups.
“This is the first time that we’ve built information on how ranking works directly into the app. This means you’ll be able to tap on posts and ads in News Feed, get context on why they’re appearing, and take action to further personalise what you see,” Ramya Sethuraman, Product Manager at Facebook writes.
‘Why am I seeing this post’: Information that can be accessed
Users will gain access to the following information when they click on ‘Why am I seeing this post’.
- Source: Users will be able to see the source of the post. It can be your friend, a group you’re a part of or a page that you follow.
- Ranking: Users will also be able to see how the following factors impact the ranking of posts in their news feed:
a) The frequency of a user’s interaction (like, comment or share) with a post from the same friend, page or group impacts the order in which posts from them appear in your news feed.
b) Similarly, type of posts — images, videos or links — that the user interacts with also influence the ranking.
c) Thirdly, the influence of the friend, page or group sharing the post also counts — the more popular they are, the better chances of them going up the pecking order in your news feed.
- Customisation: Users will also see options to control their news feed. Personalisation shortcuts include, Unfollow, See First, Privacy Shortcuts and News Feed Preferences.
“During our research on ‘Why am I seeing this post?’, people told us that transparency into News Feed algorithms wasn’t enough without corresponding controls. People wanted to be able to take action, so we’ve made it easy to manage what you see in News Feed right from this feature.”
‘Why am I seeing this ad?’: Improvements
When this feature was first launched in 2014, users were given a tool to get a clear idea regarding why a certain kind of ad was showing up in their news feed. Factors that affected ad placements included demographics, interests and website visits.
In addition to the factors mentioned above, now users will also be able to see if the information on an advertiser’s list matches their Facebook profile. They’ll also be able to see if the advertiser had targeted them via information (such as email ID or phone numbers) that they’ve uploaded or if some other marketing partner involved with the advertiser in running the ad.
Facebook has (arguably) evaded one privacy threat after another over the past year as their Chief Security Officer, Alex Stamos, exited the social media giant while the company’s investors wanted Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to step down. The company also dropped from the first to the seventh place in rankings for the best places to work.
Although the social network has more than 2 billion users, the trust in their brand has significantly reduced over time. The company seems to be trying to regain the confidence of its users by sharing more information with them. These are just baby steps, but only time will tell how well Zuckerberg’s multi-year plan to overhaul Facebook’s systems really works.