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Facebook’s new features could help cure ignorance

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Facebook is implementing yet another new feature called “Latest Conversations,” which will show you how many people from across the Facebook network are talking about a topic, as well as what they are saying, TechCrunch reports.

With the new feature, you won’t just see posts from your friends, or those posts that share your personal views; you’ll see everyone’s views from across the globe in reverse chronological order (from newest to oldest). You’ll see posts that disagree with your beliefs, and you’ll even see posts in different languages.

As of right now, the feature is available on the mobile app only, and it is not yet available on the website version. On the mobile version, if you type “healthcare” in the search box, you’ll see how many people are talking about that topic and a counter, which will update in real time. The posts, which range from insightful commentary to curse-word-filled rants, do not update automatically. You have to refresh the screen by pressing the “See All” link again to see the latest posts.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Facebook seems to be taking measures to try and eliminate “filter bubbles” (basically information accurate or not that self-reinforces thanks to website algorithms that provide news and information based on your demographics, behavior, and past search and click history). The social network also recently added a “Topics to Follow” feature, which allows you to follow a whole topic — like photography — as opposed to a single page about that topic. The topics to follow feature makes it so you see information from a collection of pages which are a part of a specific theme; pages whose owners all likely hold different views on the subject.

Both of these features — latest conversations and topics to follow — appear to be in the testing stages right now. When you search various news topics, only a handful of topics include the latest conversations counter. For instance, the terms “North Korea” and “healthcare” currently include the feature, but terms like “Iraq,” “Iran,” and “Barack Obama” do not. As for topics to follow, you can currently follow interesting topics like “photography” and “horror movies,” but there’s not yet an option for controversial topics like “healthcare.”

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