There are always going to be those Facebook posts we don’t want to see; the Nth baby photo, the Instagram-pushed food porn, the vaguebook status updates. The people behind them, however, we don’t want to go whole hog and defriend … just be able to black bar their occasionally aggravating posts.
To this end, Facebook introduced “Hide All,” an option that appeared via drop down menu that let you get rid of a user’s obnoxious updates without getting rid of them. There were other options, too, like requesting Facebook only show you important posts from these people (engagements, new jobs, new homes, etc).
Now, Facebook has made a minor change, but one that might feel significant: Instead of the “Hide All” option, you now can only “Unfollow” your friends. You could also opt to say you just don’t like a specific post, and why, or get all notifications for a post – but the big change here is the “Unfollow.”
Unfollow doesn’t mean you’re defriending this person. Instead, you’re just not going to get anymore updates from them. No one knows you’ve unfollowed them, but it is a cut and dry way to silence someone entirely, and the language change from “Hide All” to “Unfollow” seems to be making users feel … well, a little mean about censoring their annoying Facebook friends.
“We are making a small update to the options people have to customize News Feed. Previously, people could hide all updates from a particular friend or Page if they didn’t want to see any more posts from them,” a Facebook spokesperson tells me. “For example, you could hide updates from a person by selecting ‘Hide all from Jane Smith.’ Going forward, this will work in the same way but the language will change to ‘Unfollow Jane Smith.’ This means you are still friends, but updates from that person won’t appear in your News Feed. The goal of this change is to help people curate their News Feed and see more of the content that they care about.”
Of course, some of those previously mentioned options for seeing a certain amount of someone in your News Feed are now gone – but if you take the time the put them in Facebook’s pre-made lists, then you’ll accomplish (probably) whatever it was Facebook was doing for you anyway. If you only want to see the important things from someone, throw them into your Acquaintances list, and it could solve the trick. Or create your own list of “people I only sometimes want to see updates from,” and then the problem is certainly solved.
But I get it: We’re lazy, we’ve been coddled, and the News Feed frustration is never-ending. Losing options always hurts.
Facebook’s White Whale is the News Feed, and whatever curation tips it can glean from users, it will glean. As it grows larger – and that means its user base, ad sales, ad placements, promoted posts, sponsored stories, and updated posted all increase – the platform needs all the help it can get weeding through the noise to find them gems for each individual user. No two News Feeds should be the same, and because the amount of information flowing in is so high, Facebook has to look to us for help dissecting it. This is just one more way the social network can pick and choose what goes in our News Feed; if we Unfollow someone, it’s one less signal to have to measure.