I agree with the majority of your comment, but not that line. Accomplishing that feat would not be "human like perfect AI" - it'd be mind-reading. My very closest friends could probably do a better job filtering my newsfeed than Facebook, but no way they would ever get it always right.
We can immediately discount a naïve timeline of events. Say events will appear in the timeline when they originally happen – that's not going to work, because it's be buried within an hour or two, regardless of the importance.
Maybe events' places in the timeline could be based on when they were last "updated", as in liked, commented on etc. – that's probably more appropriate, but raises prioritisation questions. And let's say somebody catches up after a week, and comments on an older status - does everybody need to see it again?
So something more complex is required - the simple timeline's no longer appropriate, even in relatively straightforward cases, given the volume of friends that many users have. It seems pretty obvious then to build something like a friend graph, with edges weighted based on e.g. frequency of interaction and mutual friend count, and use that to weight news items. As far as I know, that's what Facebook is doing.
Personally, I do prefer the simple timeline – but that's because I've been using Facebook since it was first available at my university, and I don't have a huge friend list. But I appreciate that's probably not applicable to most users, and when I do look at my news feed, it does seem to do a pretty good job of prioritising things I'm interested in - especially if you engage a little bit and downrank/hide posts that you don't want to see.
It means not placing content customers don't want in equal or more prominent positions than content that is important to them. I don't want highlighted ads inline, pushing content that I want to see down off the page (and exacerbating the naive solution you mention of displaying things in chronological order).
This is not to say that I don't agree with your correct insight on the technical difficulties, but want to add that I think part of the problem of the problem of "natural" is not just the complicated algorithm of showing relevant information, it is the fact that Facebook is prioritizing things customers don't want in that algorithm.
Also annoying you can't find any posts older than a few days. There isn't a page 2 or anything, the feed just stops.
Not everyone has 500 people that post regularly, and it's possible to disable people who you don't know well from being visible in your feed. There are options like "show most posts from this person" or "only important" or none at all, though they hide them.
There are other possible ways to manage large amounts of content. Google reader had a nice system where it shows you how many new things from every source and you can select the ones you want to see. Reddit lets you individually subscribe to a large number of completely different subreddits and it manages sorting by votes.
But then that damn news feed sort order keeps popping back to the default sort order... "Top Stories." It's a tiny little link; just large enough to exist. When the default is selected it just says "Sort". It's designed to be ignored. A UI anti-pattern used with intention. If they could remove it without a revolt, they surely would.
Facebook doesn't want you to have a good user experience: Facebook wants you to have a Facebook Experience. One that they control and provide, with information they get to choose, and other people get to buy. News stories are bought and sold and "Top Stories" is just another way to let them insert whatever the hell they want above the fold. That space goes to the highest bidder, or the highest generator of ad revenue, or the most viral stories they've algorithmically decided to enhance. It's a method of control designed not to improve the experience, but to forge the great machine and make it a more efficient way to guarantee a value proposition.
It's simple really. And it's not so bad, in the end. People have been complaining about TV commercials since their inception, but they're widely accepted and more valuable than ever. Facebook is just taking its place in the economic reality of media. They've grown up.
This. They want to control not just your experience, but your information, so they can package it up neatly and sell it. Advertisers can get both your information, but they also know how advertising -- at least on Facebook -- will be presented.
It's also probably a learned response from us having gone through the early days of social networking. There just weren't as many people total on the internet back then. If there was a person you knew and they also had internet access, and they also used Facebook, it was somewhat more of a rare thing than it is today. You friended them because, again, you understood the Facebook friend to be a semi-scarce resource and human brains are hardwired to hoard scarce resources.
So now that we live in an era where sugary, salty, fatty foods and Facebook friends are no longer scarce resources, we gorge ourselves on them and have become obese as a result. "Facebook-friend-fat".
Sounds like it's time to cut out the empty calories and start exercising. Get rid of the people who post vapid shit, regardless of how well you think you know that person (how many times do we hear people make excuses for not eating better because it's uncomfortable?). And start posting better content of your own. One tends to get out what one puts in.
Having said that, I am more confident Google would address the problem and come up with a better method of filtering duckfaces that facebook. Whether they let you toggle the 'duckface filter' feature is another issue.
That's your problem for friending those people, not the networks for showing you what you explicitly asked for (not duckface pics but posts from those people).
And what makes you think if as many of your Facebook friends were on Google+ (and used it as actively) you still wouldn't see "as many duckface pics" in your feed?
As far as I'm concerned, the only reason people like Facebook is because the email listserv is not very discoverable. Sometimes, you want to be included in the stream by default but don't want to participate right away. An email chain is too easy to exclude people.
I use Facebook only insomuch as I have friends who use it and send me messages through it. Most of my "social" interactions through the internet are through email now, with groups of friends setup on lists so we can tune in and out as we want. It's easier to search than Facebook's past, too.
>> "Stop what you're doing and just let it be natural."
If they did that you would probably miss a lot more stuff. Nobody wants to have to scroll back through their timeline to catch up on the important stuff they missed, and they don't want to have to wade through a ton of crap to find the important stuff.
I agree with you. I think though that Facebook probably takes into account how often most people visit the site. In Facebook time 3 days is probably quite long ago - probably over 100 posts ago for a lot of people.
Facebook is a for-profit company and you've agreed to their user agreements. They use proprietary software, they store your data, and they aren't liable to what happens to your data, much less liable for keeping you happy in exchange for you doing absolutely nothing but consume.
You aren't entitled to anything from them. Stop using it if you don't like it. Use something else or create something else. Life is not going to be served up for you on a platter without you doing anything for it, from the government, much less a large corporation which has no accountability towards you, who so blindly signed up, supported and agreed to let over all your personal content and social connections over to a for profit company. I'm confuse as to how people can feel this entitled without deserving anything due to not putting any work or ethical and moral reflection on how you use the Internet. Knock it off.
Sorry, your letter pissed me off. It pisses me off that it is #1 on Hacker News right now. Knock it off, everyone. I am a very liberal person but this sense of entitlement from middle class Internet users has to stop. It is the reflection of a society that consumes far more than in produces.
Excuse my rant.
Very fair point, but why not just say that?
But now I am frustrated with my use of the internet and the interconnectedness of everything. I don’t like being a node in a graph full of properties, incoming, and outgoing edges. I don’t like being inspected everyday, by the companies with the wealth to do so, like I am an anonymous bug in an experiment.
I don’t like brands anymore. Even if the companies have great people, I still loathe a brand name. It’s embedded; they spread it like an infectious disease. It pervades all spaces of the web. Of my web—my web personalized for me. They tell me what I need. I don’t tell them. Because the algorithms are smart, really, they are. But they are blind to what matters—to what matters to me.
Maybe I am the sum of my likes. Maybe my interests help them learn so they can bring me the things they think I’ll like.
It only makes it worse. Everything is too familiar, too formulaic, and all very much the same. For communication, I love the formula. Messages are sent to every different type of person you can imagine, and they can all understand perfectly well. But it is the message that is the problem. The message, as I said, is always the same. It’s a tagline, a ‘service’, and a subscription fee.
Our technology is a burden to psychology. Within our society, it is a weapon. It’s a tool. And it’s digging up and targeting you. The technology needs a divorce if it will help. It needs to divorce itself from corporate wealth, from unregulated self-interest that harms people. People are hurting and people or mourning, and people wake up in the morning with no hope for a future but keep on going because that’s what they were told to do.
I wrote this yesterday and I was so delighted to see something so similar at the top of HN this afternoon.
Can't you use Facebook Messenger for that?
This, of course, is common with consumer web startups, where the prevailing wisdom is "grow Grow GROW!! ...and worry about monetization later". That's great only if you're gunning for a flip or acquihiring. Good to signal monetization intent, and how that might affect the experience, early. (Best to actually try monetizing early.)
Try Google+... You choose who you want to see, and they don't have to choose to see you. Such a better way to get information you want. And circles and communities make that so much more useful.
Of course it probably helps that most of the people that spam Facebook with games they play and emotions they describe don't use Google+. Or I should say most people don't use Google+.
It is; you can click the [V] in the corner of a post in your feed, and choose "Hide all from [username]". I'm not sure how widely known that is, though.
The thing is, one one hand you have people complaining about all the trivial stuff they don't want to read invading their news feed, and on the other hand you have people complaining that Facebook are filtering their news feed too heavily and they want to see EVERYTHING. It's a difficult balance to make, and I'm sure they're continually tweaking it back and forth to find an equilibrium. The filtering/ranking has also gotten a LOT better since they first introduced it, when I was reaching for the "show in chronological order" button all the time.
They have nothing in common, Facebook ate Myspace's lunch when it was 10 million users, this has nothing to do with what may kill a network with the entire US and 1 billion ACTIVE users. We have no idea what, if anything, will kill Facebook.
I maintain that the best thing about it was text posts. People had a go at being witty or relevant or informative, and it seems everywhere you go on the site these qualities are suppressed. Text posts are truncated and offer a See More button, and images and other easily digestible content are prioritised.
This has two important effects:
=> News feeds are much quicker to skim, and are much less substantial, which leaves you unsatisfied even when you've seen everything new, so you stick around. I admit this is pretty good monetising strategy on Facebook's behalf.
=> People start moving to services which imitate the fast flash of attention model promoted by the news feed. That's Snapchat, for example. I feel similarly dissatisfied finding out that Alice and Sally got fake-Facebook-married-but-really-just-BFFLs-still for the sixth time as I do seeing some guy who's not really my friend doing a random snapchat of his mock-surprised face.
It strikes me that so few of my daily interactions online make me feel in any way connected. The best ones are still just talking to people via text or chat, and frankly I feel more connected to @ryanpequin, the comic artist who tweets with brutal honesty from the other side of the world, than most of the friends I see a few times a week.
I think Facebook almost hit the nail on the head regarding what teenagers wanted. They live in highly structured communities (schools) and Facebook made it easy to keep thoughts vaguely within communities simply by showing them to people via algorithms. Unfortunately now it doesn't have the same charm, and many of the people I know feel the same. But all our friends are on it, so we stay.
There are two kinds of people: people that do things(good or bad) and people that don't.
People that don't do anything love to criticize those that do. You will find them criticizing how bad other person dances in a party, but of course you won't find them dancing as is risky for them.
Well, yes, facebook sucks, but as the most important social network on earth, they suck less than the alternatives. If you have a better idea you are free to do something about it.
"My 3rd cousin whom I haven't seen since a family reunion 10 years ago"
so why is she in your feed to begin with?
to me this all sounds like a rant from someone blaming a website s/he's socially awkward
We're not teenagers, we have our own lives, we meet up when we can, not every day.
After my class reunion I thought to myself, 'Do I really care about Mary's crafts, Farmville, and do I need people I hate prying into my private life?'.
So I am currently facebookless, lindedinless, & twitterless and don't miss the noise for a second.
Twitter I have used since 2006 and still use it just as frequently as a few years ago.
Never looked back.
getting relevant stuff on your news feed is trivially simple on facebook, you don't even need to major in anything.
He's telling them that intuitively it has gone from being a good experience to being a shitty one, and he provided some examples of what good was and could be.
CAN facebook cut through the noisy garbage and give people what they want again? Can they pull this off when folks have befriended people that aren't really their friends?
Perhaps not.. it's not an easy technological challenge to pull off. But it's clear that FB is focused primarily on extracting cash in the near term before the collapse of its user base, and that's putting it into a death spiral where they don't appear to be doing much to address these intuitions.
It's hard to find something more valuable, in a consumer product, than intuition.
For that reason alone, posts like this from individuals to large companies are valuable, and the argument that it's invalid because somehow the large corporation knows better is the opposite of true.
Not to mention my college literally requires you to use it.
That is still optional.
Your personal network is often critical for finding spouses, or jobs; it can provide helping hands when things go wrong, and for most people it's a source of happiness.
For better or worse, Facebook has appropriated the personal networks of a majority of people in our society. It is possible to opt out of Facebook, just like you can opt out of society and go live in a shack in the woods.
An option does not mean that something is exactly equivalent or that it does not come with side effects.
>It is possible to opt out of Facebook, just like you can opt out of society and go live in a shack in the woods.
Definitely not in a shack, definitely not on Facebook.
You, like a lot of people in the thread, see Facebook as required because 'everyone' uses it, except everyone uses it because it is required. Your own hangups or how it will be perceived by others makes you look on it as if it was required and not just something you chose to do one day.
Honestly a friend that won't interact with you unless you have a Facebook account isn't someone I would call a friend.
It would seem that Facebook is 'required' because you see some requirement to interact with people that won't talk to you in any other way. That is also a choice you made.
Don’t whine about stupid things with Facebook. Tell us things we don’t know, that we’re not aware of, or bring powerful analysis to things that truly matter.
This sentiment has now been blessed by a lot of technology insiders. It's a common set of feelings, perhaps not well put but nevertheless captured something we're feeling.
FB employees: heed this warning. We your early adopters will leave if you don't fix it.
Exactly, sorry I'm not a great writer, I'm a programmer. :(
Optional like the sites that have "sign in via facebook" and no other option?
Optional in that they track your every move from "like buttons" all over the web?
Or optional that they develop shadow profiles on users that aren't even users?
Which optional is it?
But in any case, you've failed to rebut the "it's optional" argument. None of your examples are related to OP's complaint about using the activity feed to keep up with friends.
Yes. Or are you under the impression that those sites are also not optional?
…except when that website first make you use facebook.
> If your belief that Facebook logins are a bad thing is widespread, people will stop only implementing Facebook logins because it's a bad business decision.
These things are a slow process.
> Stop whining because the market doesn't agree with you.
Luckily, my "whining" (the part about the social logins that you could only argue against, my privacy points were bulletproof and spot-on) is backed up by evidence:
First of all you should be able to complain and criticize even free services. Second Facebook is pretty much a monopoly. Everyone you know uses facebook, therefore you have to use facebook. It's not like you can just go to a different social network. It's a great example of the Network Effect (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect).
This is highly simplistic. Moxie gave a good talk a few years back that covered this idea that we have a 'choice' about using new communication technologies like smartphones, and the arguments apply just as much to social networks
Changing Threats To Privacy From Tia To Google (Blackhat 2010) by Moxie Marlinspike http://www.securitytube.net/video/1084
I've transcribed the relevant part:
I think if you look at the way that people tend to organise in groups and communities, there are often informal communications networks that bind them together, that allow them to communicate, make plans, coordinate activities. If you introduce something like the GSM cellular network to this group, and if I start using it, I am subject to something that is very well known called the No Network Effect. If I am the only one with a cell phone it's really not worth very much. The value of the network is in the number of people that are connected to it and that if I'm the only one I can't really communicate with anyone.
However if I somehow manage to get everyone to start using my communications network it becomes very effective and very valuable. But there is an interesting side effect, which is that the old informal mechanisms people use to communicate and to collaborate disappear, that they are destroyed by the introduction of technology. The technology actually changes the social fabric of how people communicate and coordinate. Mobile phones, there are many obvious examples. People used to make plans, they would say: "I'll meet you on this street corner at this time on this day and, you know, we'll do something" and now people say "I'll call you when I'm getting off work" or "I'll text you" and if you don't have a mobile phone you can't really participate in this type of organisation and you begin to find yourself kind of alone. Because if I now make a choice not to be a part of this cellular network, there is sort of an interesting thing where once again I am subject to the no network effect. The network that used to exist, the informal communications channels, has been destroyed.
So yes, I made a choice to have a mobile phone, but what kind of choice did I make? I think this is sort of an interesting phenomenon. What happens is a choice is introduced; it starts as a very simple choice: the choice of whether or not to have a mobile phone, a simple piece of technology. But slowly things happen to expand the scope of that choice until eventually it's so big as to encompass not just whether you have a mobile phone or not but whether you want to be a part of society. In some ways the choice to have a mobile phone today has become not necessarily just whether you have a piece of consumer electronics in your pocket but whether or not you are even a part of society, and that's a much bigger choice. Maybe not one that we should have to make, or at least maybe one that isn't really a choice at all.
 originally transcribed for this thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3451313
The one thing tech has kind of changed is that you can participate in social circles without necessarily having the spending power to physically participate in (the activities of) those same circles.
Having lived in developing nations and in countries with struggling economies, I find the amount of free or cheap things to do increases greatly making it really hard to be left out (due to lack of money).
So basically the 'no network effect' may be financially-based or just based on preference.
Opting out of facebook or cell phones does not mean you don't want to be part of society.
For example, once a technology named call card existed, you sent those to other people houses to.invite them over. If you for example to use that, most people.won't understand, and those that do, will think you are some sort of museum crazy person.
I'm 37, so maybe I'm not representative, and I'm willing to believe that my life might be a little more wife-and-kids-and-job-centric than some here. But I'm honestly a bit surprised by the claims that it's impossible to live without it. I'm willing to believe it, because it seems unlikely that this many people would be so wildly exaggerating, but it's surprising all the same. What are the elements of life that I live without that folks can't even conceive of living without?
Personally, I was just observing today to my girlfriend that it seems my news feed is rather sparse, mainly consisting of the same 15-20 people over and over again and few enough total posts per day that I often reach the end of posts I haven't seen.
Then, when I look at the pages of actual friends I am surprised to see them posting significant things that somehow I was not presented with.
I would prefer that the news feed work like twitter: show me everything, from everyone, sequentially. The choice between 'Top Stories' and 'Most Recent' isn't enough since lost recent, as noted, shows a small and poorly chosen subset of friend activity. And then, the mix is frequently updated behind the scenes in an opaque manner.
You're basically asked whether you want to move people into two lists: Close Friends and Acquaintances. You'll see pretty much every single action your close friends perform on Facebook, and you won't see anything from your acquaintances except the important updates (i.e., ones with lots of likes / shares / comments).
I did not "post a linkbait article", If I wanted to post a linkbait article I would have not put it on a free, ad-less site that has zero use for me outside of it's use for everyone else... I posted it in an ad-free pastebin because I don't want it to be linkbait.