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Facebook revamps feed, aims for more user control

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 10, 2019 the Facebook logo is seen on a phone in this photo illustration in Washington, DC. – A “tsunami” of political disinformation is pounding Facebook users with the US presidential election still a year away, online activist network Avaaz said in a report released on November 6, 2019. An analysis by the NGO of the top 100 bogus news stories about US politics that went viral on Facebook in the 10 months ending October 31 showed that politically tinged false news got more than 158 million views. (Photo by Alastair Pike / AFP)

Facebook said Wednesday it was revamping its main user feeds to give people more control over what they see on the leading social network, with less reliance on algorithms.

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The change enables users to control and prioritize on what Facebook calls its “News Feed,” or the main element seen when people log onto Facebook.

This will allow people to see more from their friends and contacts, and enable users to turn off the Facebook algorithm entirely and see posts in chronological order if they choose.

The move comes with Facebook facing heightened scrutiny for its role in promoting harmful content and misinformation, including from its algorithms.

The revamp makes it possible for users to switch between an algorithmically ranked feed and one sorted chronologically with the newest posts first.

“The goal of News Feed is to connect you to what matters most to you: the people in your life, interesting content and the world around you,¨ Facebook said in a blog post.

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Other changes being introduced give users more control over who can comment on a specific public post and an expansion of Facebook´s “Why am I seeing this?” to better understand its ranking algorithm.

In a separate post, Facebook vice president Nick Clegg defended the company’s use of algorithms, which have faced criticism as being opaque and driving polarization.

Clegg said algorithms are largely driven by the user.

“The personalized ‘world’ of your News Feed is shaped heavily by your choices and actions,” he wrote.

“This is the magic of social media, the thing that differentiates it from older forms of media. There is no editor dictating the front page headline millions will read on Facebook. Instead, there are billions of front pages, each personalized to our individual tastes and preferences.”

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