Digital Life

Facebook hides Most Recent on iPhone

Why is Facebook so obsessed with dictating the way we view our timeline?

Like many people, I glance at Facebook a few times a day, but apparently I'm doing it wrong. I like to view my friends' posts in chronological order to reduce the chances of missing something, even though I know that Facebook doesn't reveal every post. But Facebook is determined to show me the "News Feed" (aka "Top Stories") instead – a kind of smart inbox which shows me what Facebook considers to be the most important events.

There's nothing wrong with the News Feed concept, sometimes it's a useful way to catch up on recent events. The issue is that you tend to see the same few items, with older items remaining at the top while you're missing new posts from your friends. It's frustrating enough that Facebook already makes judgement calls on what's important and regularly hides items.

What's more annoying is that Facebook is determined to force the News Feed upon us by making the Most Recent option harder and harder to access. Even when you change your feed to Most Recent, it often doesn't stick for long. Items in Most Recent also jump back to the top if someone comments on them, bringing the News Feed concept into Most Recent whether you like it or not.

The difficulty in sticking with Most Recent got worse with the latest iPhone update, bringing it into line with recent changes on the Android app. Most Recent is now buried within several menus, rather than being a dropdown option on the main screen.

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Facebook seems determined to wear us down to the point where we just accept that it knows best and stick with News Feed. It wants to reshape the way we look at Facebook, thinking of it more like a digital newspaper than a list of diary entries. It's an interesting concept which is worth exploring, but shoving it down people's throats reeks of arrogance and reinforces the idea that the social media giant is becoming too big and powerful.

What's so bad about wanting to view your news feed in roughly chronological order? My guess is that Facebook wants to increase the likelihood of you interacting with posts by showing you the most popular posts among your friends while downgrading what it considers to be the more mundane posts. The more you interact with posts and click between pages the more advertising you're likely to be exposed to. Facebook doesn't want us to passively scroll through our Most Recent posts, because high interactivity rates also let Facebook demand top dollar from advertisers. It also wants businesses to pay extra to "boost" their posts, to ensure that more people see them.

How often do you check Facebook and how do you prefer to view your timeline?

Read more posts from Adam Turner's Gadgets on the Go blog.

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