Social media never rests: On Wednesday, Facebook revealed changes that give users more control over what they see in their feeds and homepages and who can comment, while Instagram’s Reels feature took another step toward becoming more like TikTok.
On the main Facebook platform, users on Android or iOS can sort News Feed items by most recent or let the algorithms choose. They can also change the content that appears on their homepages through the use of the “Favorites” setting.
“By selecting up to 30 friends and Pages to include in Favorites, their posts will appear higher in ranked News Feed and can also be viewed as a separate filter,” the company explained, adding that it plans to tweak the interface to make the feature more accessible.
More user control over comments are also part of the update. People will have new abilities to allow only “friends,” “friends of friends” or the broader “public” to leave messages, similar to visibility settings for posts. Twitter enacted similar features, so users of the micro-messaging platform may find Facebook’s new feed familiar.
This joins Facebook’s other changes that let people shut off political ads or “snooze” a particular page or person’s posts.
The updates look like a reaction to the heat aimed at the tech giant over how it handles the distribution of misinformation. Critics, including those in Congress, accuse the company of not doing enough to stem the amplification of dangerous content — even going so far as saying the platform helps radicalize people by showing ever more harmful content, once a given user expresses interest in certain posts.
Toward that end, Facebook is also adding a “Why am I seeing this?” button to shed more light on why the algorithm is showing certain News Feed posts across friends, pages and groups. They may be based on past related posts or topics the person liked or location.
Although the company denied that its algorithms were a problem, these latest moves look like an attempt at rehabilitation — or at least show that it’s somehow responding to the criticism. Of course, that may also change the calculus on how far innocuous pages can reach.
Instagram managed to escape a lot of the fire directed at its parent company, and that perhaps allows it more freedom to experiment. The latest change coming to the photo- and video-sharing network also came Wednesday via the short-form video feature Reels.
The platform introduced “Remix,” a feature similar to TikTok’s “Duets.” With Remix, people can use someone else’s video to create and share their own beside it.
Duets is largely credited for driving the ByteDance app’s boom among consumers, especially Gen Z audiences.