Facebook Is Finally Giving People A Non-Algorithmic News Feed

A few taps will allow you to see timely “Feeds” from friends, groups, or pages.

After years of people complaining, Facebook has finally added a way to view your posts in chronological order. Soon, you will be able to toggle into a “Feeds” button on the top of the Facebook app so you can view posts in chronological order from either Friends, Groups, and Pages.

Twitter and Instagram have also recently caved to the roaring cacophony of their users chanting, “we hate the algorithm WE HATE THE ALGORITHM.” In 2018, Twitter rolled out a little twinkle button that allows you to switch to a chronological feed. And just this spring, Instagram added a tool so that you can sort a select group of favorite accounts in reverse-chronological order. All three methods involve a little work on your end to make it happen; it’s not by default, you have to tap into it. For Instagram, the non-algorithmic feed won’t show up on your main feed once you close and reopen the app, and neither will the Facebook one.

Although users HATE the feeling that they’re being served algorithmic content, Facebook and Instagram have claimed for years that in testing, users prefer it over seeing less desirable (yet timely) posts. For Instagram, having new content each time you open the app — rather than just what’s been posted since you last opened it 30 minutes ago — has helped keep people glued to the app.

If you hate getting random algorithmic stuff on Facebook, don't celebrate just yet. There's a suggestion that the Home feed (which you'll see first when you open the app) will focus more heavily than before on Reels and suggested content.

Facebook's official announcement says, "As Home becomes more of a discovery engine for you to find and follow new content and creators through recommendations, the Feeds tab provides an easy way to access the content from the people and communities you’re already connected with on Facebook." [emphasis mine]. Basically, expect that the Home feed is going to be more TikTok-ified with Reels than ever before.

Facebook’s News Feed has gone through constant overhauls over the years. At one point, people were seeing tons of content from pages and publishers like BuzzFeed, but not that much from their friends. Around 2015, the platform tried to correct this by prioritizing friends’ posts in your feed, which led to a different and new folly: the overnight oats problem (when a friend posted something banal like “anyone tried overnight oats,” Facebook treated it like the most important thing and would constantly “stick” it to the top of people’s feeds). A few years later, a shift to prioritizing "engagement" meant that posts with a lot of comments would stick to the top of your feed — if your friends kept commenting on one bad video, it would appear each time you opened Facebook for days.

Offering a reverse-chronological feed that requires a few taps to access is unlikely to solve all of Facebook’s problems. It’s a crumb of bread to toss out to the hungry masses, a weak olive branch. It’s offering up what people have asked for, but Facebook knows this is what really truly people want and that this won’t address deeper systemic issues within the News Feed. But maybe, just maybe, this will cut the company a short reprieve from the heat of lawmakers threatening regulation.


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