Further Filtering Facebook News Feed
May 24, 2016 6:18 AM   Subscribe

On an average day, only a dozen posts on Facebook are from my actual friends. Most of the other posts are things that my friends have liked of their own friends, or shared posts of others, neither of which I couldn't care less about. Is there a way to filter these out?

So the other day during a health issue, I had a lot of free time on my hands, so I looked at 100 posts on my Facebook news feed (I use "most recent" instead of "top posts" so that I can see everything).

Of those 100 posts, only 12 were posts from my actual friends. 70 posts were things my friends have "liked" of others, 9 were "shared" posts of others, and the other 9 were other things like updating cover photos and such. I am not counting sponsored posts here.

I know I can see other people's liked posts and shares because the original posters have their privacy settings set public or close to it, but I am really sick of seeing these things. I just want to see the stuff my friends post; I couldn't care less what they like of others and share of others.

Is there a way to filter these things out? Or would that "defeat the purpose" of Facebook, and therefore no such filtering option is possible? I could, in theory, write to every single "liked" post of others and tell them that a stranger like me could see it, but of course that would be silly and no person in their right mind would do that (but, "in theory" it could work). Hiding my own friends would mean it would hide everything they post themselves, too. And if I try to block their friends entirely, I would be laborious as it's different people being liked or shared each time.

I am using the Facebook app on my iPhone. I do not use Facebook on a computer, I do not have my iPhone hacked, and I do not believe there are extensions or things I can install on my iPhone (or are there?).

I don't want to drop Facebook entirely because it really has been positive in my life overall (some groups of relatives became separated when linking relatives died, but Facebook brought us back together; I have found employment via Facebook, etc), but I get annoyed when I am relaxing on the toilet for 10 minutes (i.e. hiding from the kids), and I only see a few things my own friends have posted among my friend's cousins' redneck uncle posting pictures of his 3yo pretending to drink beer because it's cute (yes, that's true)...
posted by TinWhistle to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience, the more you reply to things your friends post, the more of their posts you will see. I don't know exactly how it works but the Facebook algorithm for figuring out what you see takes this into account. If you are just reading your feed and not liking or replying to things, I think FB assumes you didn't really find the content engaging and so it tries to find new content that you may find more engaging, such as friends-of-friends' posts or random crap your friends have liked.
posted by joan_holloway at 7:04 AM on May 24, 2016

things that my friends have liked of their own friends, or shared posts of others, neither of which I couldn't care less about

Whether or not you see these are down to your friends'/friends-of-friends' settings, not yours, unfortunately.

Maybe for those "10 mins on the toilet" times, try Twitter? You have a lot more control over your feed - especially if you use a third party app that lets you filter what you see.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:13 AM on May 24, 2016

Yeah, the "filler" stuff can be pretty maddening. One idea is to identify the friends you care most about. Then just visit their profile pages. Skip the news feed entirely.
posted by oxisos at 7:15 AM on May 24, 2016

I created a Group called Close Friends, and just use it, to pretty much accomplish exactly what you describe. It's one extra click vs just seeing the default feed that FB "thinks" I want, but I am OK with that.

I especially HATE the "feature" they started doing- sort of a starred, "pinned" method of putting certain people's posts always first. REALLY want to disable that always.

I feel your pain. Let ME pick who I like best, show me ONLY those people, and show me all their stuff, not just certain posts. THAT. IS. ALL. kthxbaifacebook
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 7:24 AM on May 24, 2016

You can theoretically block the original person from showing up in your news feed. So, like, if your friend Joe Smith liked something posted by John Jones, you can hide all of John Jones's posts. In practice, though, your friends are liking hundreds of people, and doing this one by one would be extremely tedious.

One thing you could try is to unfollow friends who seem to clutter up your feed with the most frivolous likes. To use my previous example, if Joe Smith keeps liking and sharing John Jones's annoying posts, you can just unfollow Joe. I've done this, although not to people I'm particularly close with.

I think, without firm evidence to back this up, that the FB algorithm tries to show you new stuff every time you check it, and so if there are no new posts to show, they'll show likes instead. When I go a day without checking FB, I see mostly real posts, but when I check in every fifteen minutes, I see a lot of likes, and many fewer posts.

And of course, as others have said, the algorithm privileges content that it thinks you'll like based on what you've indicated before. So if you comment or like a lot of a certain friend's posts, those posts will show up more often in your feed. If you read a friend's posts, but don't interact with them, that friend's posts won't show up as often.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:38 AM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Facebook Purity lets you filter these out on a PC, not sure if it works on the phone.
posted by ellieBOA at 7:41 AM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think some features were removed after Facebook bullied the one guy behind it, but along with FB Purity I also have Social Fixer installed and really like it. I also have AdBlock and AdGuard, and a little thing I am struggling to remember the name of that simply adds "?sk=h_chr" to the URL and forces FB to sort by chronological order instead of constantly reverting to the "Top Stories" nonsense. (On Googling I think it might be the thing with the complicated name of "Force Facebook Most Recent.")

> I could, in theory, write to every single "liked" post of others and tell them that a stranger like me could see it

(Most regular users know this and know how to prevent it/keep it public as per their preference)
posted by kmennie at 8:24 AM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not threadsitting, but I want to re-point-out two things I mentioned in my original post so that the answers are more concise to what I am looking for:

1) I am already using "Most Recent..." (FB -> More -> Favorites -> Most Recent) rather than the front page news feed, so I am seeing every post by every "friend", in reverse order, therefore bypassing what Facebook thinks I want to see based on my own activity, etc.

2) I am only on my non-hacked iPhone, so AdBlock and other extensions are not an option. Or if they are, it is news to me, so please elaborate.

I do like some of the other ideas above, though, but not ready for a Best Answer quite yet.
posted by TinWhistle at 8:46 AM on May 24, 2016

Seconding "Facebook purity". I use that myself on my PC and it has done all sorts of wonderful getting rid of all sorts of cruft. (although the latest version keeps freaking Chrome out, and it auto-disables it whenever I log off my computer and I have to keep telling Chrome to re-instate it each time, which is getting annoying.)

If that's too complicated, another thing that helps is: if one of your friends always seems to consistently share posts from the same given meme-farm, sometimes you will be able to find a preference on the post itself, where you can block everything from that specific meme-farm, even if your friends share it.

For instance - if my uncle's always sharing posts from the Caro Foundation facebook page or a friend always shares inspirational images from the Facebook Page for "Sacred Grove of Childlike Chakras" or whatever, I sometimes find that I can find a menu on the Caro post itself that offers me the choice to "unfollow Uncle Sid" or the choice to "block all posts from the Caro Foundation"; if I can find that, I go for blocking the Caro Foundation. That way I do get Uncle Sid's posts about my cousin's kids, but none of the political cruft. Ahhhhh.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:42 AM on May 24, 2016

I've made liberal use of the "unfollow" button. It lets you stay friends with folks, but not see their likes, mindless minion/ecard shares, right-wing conspiracy posts, etc. I haven't created groups of friends and family yet, but that may be my next step if Facebook changes their algorithm yet again.
posted by jhope71 at 10:09 AM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have unfollowed people only to find FB putting their stuff right back in there, thank you very little. I don't think any of those changes sticks long term. :-/
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 10:12 AM on May 24, 2016

so I am seeing every post by every "friend", in reverse order,

By the way - from my use and understanding is that this isn't true. It still uses an algorithm to decide what you see. You can test this by going to a friend's page and seeing all the stuff you missed. (Now I think there's even a thing on the friends section of desktop that says how many new updates a friend posted that you didn't see. )

So whatever you end up using note that at least with Most Recent it still actually doesn't show you everything - only the stuff it wants to show you in most recent order.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:02 PM on May 24, 2016

Seconding Crystalline that using "Most Recent" does not show you everything. You can tell because if you *don't* use "Most Recent", you'll usually see things that were never on the "Most Recent" list.

To get rid of a lot of viewing of likes and comments for a particular person who had likes and comments that were actively raising my blood pressure, I set her as an "Acquaintance" so I would see less of her. It's working.
posted by freezer cake at 3:29 PM on May 24, 2016

I solved this problem by making a custom list. You add the friends you want to the list, which then shows you only those friends' posts in reverse chronological order. BTW... I've only been able to create and edit custom lists on the desktop version of the website. They're viewable on mobile, just not editable.
posted by JonathanB at 8:03 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

What JonathanB said. Make a list of everyone you want to see (it could be all your friends!) and click on the list, and it will show you everything in reverse chronological order, without bumping posts up if they are commented on, etc. The only downside for me is that it shows everyone's photos individually instead of in albums so if someone posts 100 wedding photos it's a long scroll to get past them.
posted by metasarah at 6:51 AM on May 25, 2016

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