Facebook has finally given in to peer pressure, and is bringing back a version of the feed just for family and friends. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, the platform’s parent company, made the announcement through a Facebook post today. “One of the most requested features for Facebook is to make sure people don’t miss friends’ posts. So today we’re launching a Feeds tab where you can see posts from your friends, groups, Pages and more separately in chronological order,” Zuckerberg wrote.
This will be separate from the ‘Home’ tab, which will continue recommending content to users in a TikTok-like way. The Home tab will continue to be powered by an algorithm that recommends content that it feels may be relevant or of interest to the user. The company says that this tab will work like a “discovery engine.” This change should be rolling out to users in the coming week, and they can access these two tabs through the shortcut bar on the bottom panel.
Although Facebook has faced scrutiny over how they use these algorithms and the privacy concerns behind personalized content recommendations, these issues appear to only be a minor hurdle in the social platform’s sprint to catch up with a major competitor: TikTok.
Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta, defended Facebook’s algorithm in a Medium post last year titled “You and the Algorithm: It Takes Two to Tango” by shifting the responsibility for hateful content appearing on feeds partly to the users. And after its spate of congressional hearings in 2021 and subsequent rebrand, Facebook has continued its march to keep pace with TikTok through added investments in Reels, creator marketplaces, and even a little competitor sabotage.
Despite everything the platform is trying, it’s been losing users, as shown in a recent earnings call. Moreover, it’s reportedly losing its grip fast on the younger generation. In an attempt to placate the public, Meta debuted a new tool called system cards to be more transparent about how their recommendation system on Instagram works. (Instagram also got a chronological feed option recently.)
And in a recent appeal to the youths, Facebook said that it was testing out a function that could allow users to create multiple finsta-like profiles under a single account, with each profile catered to a separate array of interests. As we enter a déjà-vu-infused era where all social media apps are becoming the same, it’s yet to be seen whether Facebook’s copycat strategy will help it win out in the end.