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Managing Facebook’s New News Feed and Ticker

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Facebook’s changed again, this time revamping the News Feed of status updates and adding a new real-time Ticker to the News Feed page. In this article, Facebook for Grown-Ups author Michael Miller takes you on a tour of the new News Feed and Ticker, discusses what’s changed, and shows you how to personalize what you see.
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The News Feed is where you read all of your friends’ status updates on Facebook. You find the News Feed on your Facebook Home page, and for many users it is the main thing they read on Facebook.

Over the years, however, Facebook has faced criticism from some users that their News Feeds were becoming increasingly clogged with too many status updates. That’s a problem if you have a ton of Facebook friends, of course, but the only option was to defriend some of those friends or hide their posts.

Listening to this criticism, Facebook recently revamped the News Feed, in an effort to display only the most relevant posts from one’s friends. The new News Feed is segmented into Top Stories (the stuff you’ll probably be most interested in) and Recent Stories (everything else). In addition, Facebook added a new Ticker next to the News Feed that streams everything your friends are doing, in real time.

Not everyone likes these changes, of course; Facebook tends to face criticism both if it doesn’t change unwieldy features and when it does. (Some people just don’t like change.) Like it or not, however, the new News Feed and Ticker are here, so you might as well learn how to get the most from them.

Getting to Know the New News Feed

You view the News Feed on the Facebook Home page (see Figure 1). It’s how you keep abreast of the latest comings and goings of people on your Facebook friends list; the news feed displays a constant feed of status updates and other activity.

Figure 1 Facebook’s new News Feed—Top Stories at the top, Recent Stories below.

Unlike the old News Feed, which kind of lumped every update from everybody into a single list, Facebook divides its new News Feed into Top Stories and Recent Stories. Top Stories are those updates that Facebook feels are most important or interesting to you; Recent Stories are everything else. You can tell a Top Story from a Recent Story in that it has a little blue triangle in the top left of the item.

What constitutes a Top Story? It’s hard to tell. Facebook obviously tries to figure out the relative importance of an item, using some sort of fancy algorithm that supposedly considers how often an update has been viewed, how many comments there are on it, how many friends the poster has, and who knows what else. Whatever the formula, I’ve found that Facebook doesn’t often get it right; that is, the Top Stories I see in my News Feed tend to be weighted towards updates with photos or other images, often exclude posts from people I want to read about, and even more often include posts that I’m indifferent to. (You can fine-tune the feeds, however, which we’ll get to in a moment.)

The News Feed displays Top Stories first and Recent Stories after that, with updates within each section arranged in reverse chronological order. If there have been Recent Stories posted since the last Top Story, Facebook displays a “X More Recent Stories” link; click this link to skip through the older Top Stories and see the newer Recent Stories. (It’s a little confusing already, isn’t it?)

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