Facebook Ends Controversial News Feed test

Apps and Software

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Facebook has terminated its highly contentious Explore Feed test feature, according to a blog post from Facebook News Feed head Adam Mosseri, David Ingram of Reuters reports.

Mosseri said the Explore Feed was Facebook’s response to consistent clamor from users who wanted to see more posts from friends and family members on the News Feed. As such, Facebook decided to create a separate feed for posts from friends and family members and another one for posts from Pages.

He added that based on surveys people do not want two separate feeds because it made connecting with friends and family more difficult. People from the countries where the Explore Feed was tested also had trouble accessing important information, Mosseri noted.

Facebook rolled out Explore Feed in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia and Sri Lanka in October 2017. In these countries, posts from friends and family members were moved to the main News Feed and posts from Pages were relegated to the Explore Feed. Publishers would have to pay if they wanted to have their Facebook page posts reverted to the main News Feed. The result was there were fewer interactions - likes, comments, and shares - since the Explore Feed was introduced.

Several media practitioners in the test countries have expressed their dismay over the Explore Feed. Among them is Guatemalan Leonardo Rodriguez, director of digital development for the Prensa Libre Group, who criticized Explore Feed as a form of abuse by Facebook. Slovakian journalist Filip Struharik implored Facebook to be more interested in what is happening in the test countries, where small media companies were the ones mainly affected by the Explore Feed.

Explore Feed was part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to revise the News Feed to stem the tide of toxic content and put a priority on posts from friends and family members at a time when social media companies are being pressured to make their services less addictive and free from fake news.