Jeremiah Rogers

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Having Better Filters

I use Facebook more than most people. A lot of this is because I used to work there and my old habits have carried over to unemployment. Even when I worked at Facebook I often used and pushed the product more than other employees. I was on the site all day, liking and commenting and posting things. This taught Facebook that I like to read a lot of content.

However while living and traveling in Asia over the past few months Facebook hasn’t been as much fun to read. There’s a certain style of Facebook post that’s incredibly easy to like, smile at, laugh at, and comment on but that doesn’t hold much long term value. Waking up in the morning in Asia when its evening the United States means that my feed is often full of uninteresting posts: bragging, click-bait, or excessively controversial content. It’s what Facebook thinks are the top stories for me to read that morning.

Twelve hours and five thousand miles away from the United States I’m far more interested in ideas and how they’ll make me think than I am in what someone ate for lunch or five shocking facts designed to make me click a link.

This is partially my own fault. As I like and comment on Facebook stories I teach the feed algorithms about the kind of content that I enjoy. However, like most people, I often only tell Facebook what I like and not what I don’t like.

It’s actually really easy to tell Facebook what I don’t like. At the top right of every story is a little drop-down menu that lets me hide the story or hide the author forever1. I now use this button all the time. As a result my Facebook News Feed has recently gotten really good.

It feels a bit bad to tell Facebook that I don’t like someone’s story and even worse that I don’t want to ever see something from the person again. Thankfully, that person will never find out. I got over the bad emotion once my News Feed turned entirely into articles and stories that I enjoy seeing.

  • I don’t hide people out of spite, but I do hide articles if I want a break from seeing that type of story
  • I hide a story if it comes across as bragging or something I can’t imagine someone would actually tell me in person.
  • I hide publications if they start filling their Facebook feed with inspirational pictures, quotes, or links to articles that don’t describe the content of the article.
  • I unsubscribe from people I barely know unless they post very compelling content.

Facebook is definitely the best source for seeing news about my friends, companies I like, and world events all in one place. Facebook is great at surfacing content that I disagree with or find challenging.

So if you’re feel like your Facebook feed is getting messy, start hiding stuff. My feed is now better, more interesting, and far less distracting than the feed I used to have.

  1. A useful product change for Facebook might be a feed like Ello’s which has one feed for friends and one for everything else. I’d like to remove things from the main feed but still be able to the full fire hose of content. [return]