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How valuable this new feature will be is up for debate.

ELISE AMENDOLA/AP

How valuable this new feature will be is up for debate.

OPINION: “Why am I seeing this post?” Good question. Why do we see certain posts on Facebook and not others?

Until now, only social media professionals really knew the ins and outs of how Facebook’s news algorithm worked.

This week, Facebook is aiming to add some much-needed transparency to its news feed. It’s doing this by adding a “why am I seeing this post?” to the dropdown menu on individual posts on users’ news feeds.

The news comes from a blog post published earlier this week.

READ MORE:
* Facebook increases transparency, gives users greater control over News Feed
* How to ensure you keep seeing news on Facebook
* 5 ways to beef up your Facebook privacy
* How to read your ‘secret’ Facebook messages

The post stops short of accepting any responsibility for Facebook’s role in recent major events. Instead, it repeats the party line that “the goal of news feed is to show people the posts that are most relevant to them” and suggests the new feature is designed to give more control to users.

Facebook is expected to make the new tool available to users by May and will offer users some context behind why they are seeing certain posts.

How valuable this new feature will be is up for debate. Facebook says the information will be displayed when users engage with the new “why am I seeing this post?” feature.

David Court: It's not enough but it's a step along the way.

ABIGAIL DOUGHERTY/STUFF

David Court: It’s not enough but it’s a step along the way.

Facebook has suggested users can expect to see the following metrics when using the new tool:

  • How often you interact with posts from people, pages or groups
  • How often you interact with a specific type of post, for example, videos, photos or links
  • The popularity of the posts shared by the people, pages and groups you follow.

The move is clearly a response to the backlash Facebook has faced regarding how it operates. However, we shouldn’t give Facebook too much credit here, as the feature itself isn’t entirely new.

“Why am I seeing this ad?” has been part of the Facebook furniture for several years now. And as we know, less scrupulous organisations have still managed to target vulnerable users with ads with devasting effect.  

So clearly, this move is still nowhere near a big enough “fix” of the news feed that is needed. But it’s still a welcome one.

 

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