Facebook today is introducing a News Feed control called See First that allows users to force it to display posts from certain friends, every time they post, before anything else.
The move gives people using Facebook a strong new, non-algorithmic control to determine whats shown to them a tweak that brings the platform a little bit closer to Twitter.
“The idea is that if I ‘See First’ my wife, every time she posts, her thing is going to be at the top of my feed,” Facebook Product Director Adam Mosseri told BuzzFeed News in an interview.
“See First” may seem small, but it’s the latest salvo in social media’s key battleground: the stream. Social media companies once differentiated themselves by the type of content shown in their stream; Twitter was used for text, Tumblr for GIFs and memes, Instagram for photos and Facebook for friends’ pictures and your Uncle Danny’s political rants. But they’ve now nearly all opened themselves up to other forms of content. The competition is therefore really about how effective they can be at getting the best stuff in front of you.
A few years ago, Facebook introduced a human lever to its stream, allowing people to hide, or unfollow, friends whose posts they no longer wanted to see. “See First” is the next step along that path, and a bold one at that.
“News Feed is the heart of what Facebook does,” said Mosseri, conveying the importance of the project he’s working on. “Most of what people do on Facebook is spend time in a News Feed or is driven by time in a News Feed.”
“See First” won’t make or break Facebook. But over the long term, the combined effect of small moves like this one will significantly influence its fate. Read more…