facebook news feed

Facebook introduces algorithm transparency tools

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Facebook is introducing an explanatory feature on its platform which explains to users how its algorithm has tailored the news feed.

A “Why am I seeing this post?” button will be added to provide better understanding and control over what is shown from friends, Pages and Groups.

Users will also able to tap on ads in the News Feed to get context on why they’re appearing and improve personalisation. Both tools will be accessible from the drop-down menu in the top right-hand corner of any post or advert on the news feed of the social media platform.

“During our research on “Why am I seeing this post?”, people told us that transparency into News Feed algorithms wasn’t enough without corresponding controls,” Facebook product manager Ramya Sethuraman said in a blog post.

“People wanted to be able to take action, so we’ve made it easy to manage what you see in News Feed right from this feature. People’s feedback also helped us determine what specific information would be most valuable to highlight. For example, we’ve included examples of people’s interactions that contribute to each of the three signal categories we show in the feature.”

The firm also announced it was updating its similar “Why am I seeing this ad?” tool so that users can see how advertisers can use existing customer lists to show adverts to people on the platform.

Advertisers are able to upload lists of existing customer information - such as email addresses or phone numbers - to help target their advertising.

Facebook said this process takes place without revealing any identifiable information but added the new tool would more clearly show how this took place.

Ahead of the European Parliament elections due to take place in May, Facebook has already said any advertisers in the EU will undergo tighter checks, which will require documents confirming their identity and location to be submitted, amid fears of foreign interference.

The company said all adverts relating to politics and issues on both Facebook and Instagram in the EU must be clearly labelled, including who funded the advert.

“Both of these updates are part of our ongoing investment in giving people more context and control across Facebook. We will continue to listen to your feedback and evolve these features over time,” Sethuraman said.

The announcement follows founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s acknowledgement that social media requires more regulation. 

In an article published online in The Washington Post over the weekend, Zuckerberg said there was a need for governments and regulators to have “a more active role” and that he believes new regulation is needed in four areas - harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.

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