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Facebook without the News Feed (maxfriedrich.de)
69 points by maxfriedrich on May 22, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 72 comments



What I'd like is facebook without any algorithmic 'intelligence' behind the feed.

I'd really like to keep up on the minutiae of life that people casually post to facebook. I'd particularly like to see posts from people who don't post very often or who I don't interact with very often. But AFAICT there's no way to stop it prioritising, filtering, hiding, reordering as it sees fit. And that's with it set to display "Most Recent" instead of top stories.

I don't 'like' anything, or have hundreds of pages spamming my feed. I have a number of friends somewhere between 50 and 100, most of whom don't post that much, that often. I'd just like the unedited feed of what they post, but apparently that's not possible.


I second this. I knew facebook filtered the feed pretty heavily but I had no idea how bad it was until recently.

A few weeks ago I met up with some old friends and learned that a mutual friend was getting married. We're friends on facebook and she has been posting about her wedding day regularly and yet I had absolutely no idea it was happening because facebook decided for me that she was unimportant.

They really need a way to turn this aggressive filtering off. I use facebook specifically to keep in touch with wayward friends, I don't need a feed full of BS updates from people I speak with regularly.


I think the whole issue is that Facebook prioritizes the "addictive" nature of the feed. That is, their number 1 metric is clicking, so they have a very very narrow idea of what "engagement" means. But, as far as i see it, that is unavoidable...


I have plenty of friends on Facebook where occasionally one of their posts shows up on my news feed and I realize that I had completely forgotten I was Facebook friends with that person. Then I visit their profile and find out they're quite chatty, but it had been over a year since I saw something they had posted, without ever telling Facebook I didn't want to follow them.

It's truly insane.


If they didn't filter it then it could be even more unlikely you would see your mutual friend was getting married. (unless you are willing to read literally all of your friends updates).


I made a site with the goal of showing just important information about friends, but all of it: getnotably.com. Check it out and let me know if it solves your problem!


although that sums um what i want, it's just a program for a mobile phone but i don't use a mobile phone.


This, this, this, this, exactly. It's part of why twitter is so much more enjoyable than facebook -- it's a simple, understandable stream of everything.

My experience is very similar to yours -- even with "most recent" (which is really "bias by recency a bit higher in the selection algorithm," as near as I can tell), I miss all sorts of things I really care about, (while still being bombarded with stuff I don't care about).

I am not, in general, a fan of machine-selection of relevant items. Even for a human to intelligently edit my fb feed would be a challenging job, and until machines begin to approach the intelligence of humans, they will do it poorly.


My feed in twitter (using tweet deck) always has missing tweets that were algorithmically filtered. It's only when I use the mobile app or web feed that I actually get all tweets.


That's not Twitter's fault though, that's Tweetdeck's.


But twitter is nothing but, i'm eating ice cream, going to a movie or to a certain place. If that's what you want fine but what i want is only profile photo change, relationship change, job change, etc.


I'd like it to default to "Most Recent" without new comments bumping it up to the top. Facebook always switches it back to "Top Stories" for me for whatever reason... it's frustrating. There's so many posts that only make sense at a given time and reading them later is just confusing. I can't even tell you how many times I thought I was missing a Flyers game. I've found myself on twitter A LOT more nowadays due to "Top Stories".


For this purpose you can create a custom list of your friends you really want to follow. Update types can be filtered on list pages, for example show only status updates and photos, but no games, comments, etc.

Then bookmark the url of the list page (like https://www.facebook.com/lists/{list-id} ), and use it instead of the default homepage. I use this method for years and it seems much more usable this way.


If this really does work like you describe, it's exactly what I've wanted from Facebook for the last few years. Thank you!


I want to see them all. Can you do that and does it still work?


It works, but you have to create it manually. Just created a list of 500+ friends, needed about 5 minutes to repeatedly click on suggested members...


Sounds like a case for RSS .. if there was some way you could persuade people to publish their stuff that way.


I couldn't believe it when it was the next big thing and I can't believe it now when people say this seriously.

RSS is some horrible mix of protocol (for developers) and tool (for users). It's like telling someone to SMTP the information to you.

Even today I often struggle trying to get a podocast into my phone because I can't find the (correct) RSS feed on a podcast's website. RSS is a fine way for computers to talk to each other. People talk to each other in tweets, emails, posts, HN comments.. sometimes in words.


I understand where you're coming from, but also the person you replied to.

RSS the idea is great. To be able to stream things in from different sources as you see fit is much better than letting some other person's random algorithm do it for you without you having any control.

RSS the implementation still has some work ahead of it, unfortunately. You click on an RSS feed link somebody has, and it shows you code. Sometimes its hard to find the RSS link. Sometimes there is no RSS feed, and people use something else like tweets or posts. I'd prefer a future where the browser was friendlier to RSS, as well as RSS being better integrated with websites.

Btw, it is possible to get a person's RSS feed for an individual person's facebook feed. I discovered it a while back, but it's somewhat cumbersome.

The link ends up looking like this: https://www.facebook.com/feeds/page.php?format=atom10&id=173...

It'd be cool if a tool could let me give them my FB credentials, and then it automatically grabbed every single friend's FB feed and produced RSS for each, and combined them into one feed while letting me control it. Weekend project anyone?


Oh that's useful - although it mangles apostrophes into unreadable entities.


You can set the feed (on the phone or the website) to "most recent" as opposed to "top stories"; doing this supposedly undoes the EdgeRank filtering and gives you a reverse chronological feed of what your friends are posting. But I find it also throws in random posts from people or pages that your friends comment on, and also keeps bumping your friends posts that are getting comments from your other friends further up in the feed, so it becomes unnavigable in its own way.


> You can set the feed (on the phone or the website) to "most recent" as opposed to "top stories"

No, you can't on the current version of the Android app (they took that out recently), though you can go to a separate "Most Recent" feed from another menu -- the primary feed (and the one that gets a red badge for new messages to draw you back to it) is always Top Stories.

> doing this supposedly undoes the EdgeRank filtering and gives you a reverse chronological feed of what your friends are posting.

"Most recent" gives you a reverse chronological feed (mostly, though I've sometimes observed posts out-of-order in "Most Recent"), but it doesn't appear to undo EdgeRank filtering.

> But I find it also throws in random posts from people or pages that your friends comment on, and also keeps bumping your friends posts that are getting comments from your other friends further up in the feed, so it becomes unnavigable in its own way.

The primary "Top Stories" feed seems to do the same thing, except that it doesn't automatically push the most recent updates to the top -- it does seem to promote posts further up based on more recent interactions from friends.


Same problem in the latest ios app. I uninstalled it and added a bookmark to m.facebook.com in its place. As a bonus I'm no longer bothered by a bunch of notifications from group messages (which you couldn't switch off in that app either since the messages tab just displayed an ad for their separate messages app).

Hope fb is happy with my much reduced engagement.


Yup, and it still doesn't show everything from people it decides you don't need to see because you don't interact with them very often. AFAICT "most recent" is just "top stories" in a different order.

Besides which, it seems to switch back to "Top Stories" all by itself every so often.


Putting my tinfoil hat on for a second, I wonder if (and how much) post selection is tuned to maximise advertising revenue.

To give a crude example, if I see lots of posts about people enjoying expensive holidays, I'm probably more likely to click on related adverts. The effect of advertisement-funded media on the style and content of programmes is quite well documented. What if social media had a similar effect on how we perceive our relationships?


Would it be possible to use Facebook's API to build a more relevant news feed for ourselves ?


That's an interesting idea- it probably would be, yes.


I created a site that aims to solve some of these problems, getnotably.com. Check it out and let me know what you think!


Looks great. Having to wait for the first email to arrive is a bit weird - it would have been awesome to be able to browse through the past too.


Doesn't this feed on the right side of the page (above chat) show this?


Where? What can you see that I don't?

The only feed I have on the right hand side of the page is displaying some 'trending' things (I have no interest), a couple of events I'm probably not going to and a couple of 'suggested groups'


As AjithAntony says it appears when your screen is wide enough (appears on my 1200x800 display). It basically shows everything you're friends are doing - every single like, comment, share whether it has any obvious connection to your or not.


It appears the responsive design only shows the giant list of likes (and chat widget) when my browser is wider than 1220px. No obvious way to activate it when narrowed.


Weird, not seeing this in safari, even with a browser window stretched across two screens!


Exactly. Every time I read something like that, I think that people seriously underestimate the amount of content that they friends actually post; without this smart filtration, you would just drown in it.


Exactly?? The parent poster didn't actually make a point did they?

Even if it is a large volume, I'd like the chance. I don't have hundreds upon hundreds of friends, and I want to see what the ones I don't talk to all the time are saying.


I think the main problem is that centralized social networking sites like Facebook decide for you what to present, what filters to apply, and you're lucky if they throw you a bone and let you set your own privacy. And then you hope that they will in fact honor it. If the NSA wants wholesale spying on thousands of facebook users, it can go ahead and do it.

What we need is a decentralized social platform. Not something like diaspora* but a basic social layer on which developers can write apps and where each person can host their own account where they wish, install their own apps and plugins, and present things their way.

Think Redmine vs some Project Management As A Service. You can have it for free and only pay for hosting, install any plugins, and customize it to your heart's content. And the NSA can't break into everyone's project management at once. They have to target someone first.

Something like this: http://platform.qbix.com


Another big draw would be to not publicize your friends or the number of friends you have. This encourages quantity over quality, but it's obvious why social networks desire higher numbers.


I don't mind the news feed, though I do not like whatever algorithms decide what to show me.

The main reason I rarely use Facebook is because it's so bloated. On the left side I've got a bunch of "games" that I've never played, or have no recollection of playing, but Facebook thinks they're important enough to dedicate part of the front page to them.

And I'm really sick of seeing updates in my news feed about other people playing games. The top post in my news feed right now is "Friend X and Friend Y gave a life in Candy Crush Saga." It actually takes up a fair amount of space because it's got a big picture of a heart with the flavor text "A life to be used in the sweetest facebook game ever."


You can hide those stories. Click the 'v' and select "I don't want to see this" or something like that.


This is interesting because I actually have the exact opposite setup. I only wanted to see the news feed, not anything on either side. I added these custom filters to AdBlock+:

  ##*#leftCol
  ##*#rightCol
And it's just want I wanted


You could use your favorite chat client to connect to facebook chat, because this is all that is left. Or am I missing something?


Events as well. That's all I use Facebook these days, along with chat.


Unfortunately group chats don't work with their Jabber implementation, so you'll still need to visit the site for those.


But if you do that, inline photos, files and stickers won't work.


Prolly just friend adds and notifications on your own posts.


Cool idea. Seems like a useful tool for people who find themselves getting sucked in and wasting time but still need FB for communication.

>> "People tend to create albums of mediocre photos on Facebook while they only post their best on Instagram."

Really? I love Instagram but I guess I'm not seeing what you're seeing. When a friend of mine is out for the night they might post one ok photo on Instagram. When I look at Facebook I can see the full story of that night. Unless you're an excellent photographer with good subject matter one photo doesn't tell much of a story IMO.


You can easily always have an empty news feed without any custom CSS or userscripts by simply unfollowing all your friends (unfollwing is not the same as unfriending and can always be reverted with a single click).


I did this, I had ~300 friends and each time I checked Facebook I would unfollow every single person on the feed. Within 3 days I had no more posts and the news feed. I also did this with Reddit. It has slightly helped with "changing the channels" between digg, facebook, reddit and hacker news during finals a few weeks ago but being off for the summer I am reverting back to it and becoming less productive. If other people have this problem I would recommend the chrome extension concentrate.


i did exactly this a few months back and don't miss it one bit!


But then when you casually want to have a look at your news feed, it not really feasible to go back and follow your friends.

This, CSS trick is a simple hide/show functionality that allows you to go back to the news feed when you feel like it.


You can also use Adblock to block simple CSS rules like these

https://adblockplus.org/en/filters#elemhide


I am using facebook like this for at least half a year with the News Feed Eradicator plugin. I don't really care about other people posts or jokes for the 2214 time. Sometimes I check it on my phone on the bus and it really just reinforces my decision to hide. And the best is that it's eradicates the possibility of mindless-endless scrolling. Overall, recommended. :)



And if you're not using mobile: https://www.facebook.com/sitetour/chat.php


Awesome work !! Facebook sure is distracting! For the same reason, being on a mac, I added facebook message account to iMessage. No more going to facebook now :) Here is how to do it http://www.mactrast.com/2013/11/setup-facebook-chat-messages...


KillNewsFeed for Chrome is an extension that does this. I've been using it lately and I like it a lot. I'm going to fork it and also kill my trending box.

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/kill-news-feed/hjo...


I'm so glad sombody finally did it. I've been dreaming about something like this a while ago.

Improvments would be to create a kind of a control dashboard of what you want to see. maybe remove only pictures and videos ? subscribe to a specific list of friends, etc..


I believe this is why facebook is breaking up into separate apps. I agree, the newsfeed isn't important to me and mostly distracting and time wasting.

But, I like the Messenger (chat and email-esqe) and Events/Calendar, and Group communications.

Something for everyone.


I had this exact same idea yesterday.

I loathe Facebook altogether and did not miss it one iota when I quit for 3 months earlier this year. I had to go back to it, however, when I caved and added Facebook login to my chrome extension project.

Thanks for the new tool.


actually, a shortcut to the message queue (https://www.facebook.com/messages/) has the same effect to me...


I feel the same way - deleting the Facebook app from my phone and just keeping the Facebook Messenger app turned out to be a very good decision.


you can use this chrome extension https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/stylebot/oiaejidbm...

to implement this css code http://stylebot.me/styles/5808


That works great with Stylish on Firefox, thanks !

I remember a time when the content of the news feed was almost relevant and interesting...


If you just wanna chat, try astro: http://astroim.com/


if all you need is the chat you can use any pretty much every XMPP client, Pidgin for example.


You can't access group chats that way, unfortunately.


You can keep it to a mix of XMPP client on Desktop and FB Messenger on Mobile (for group messaging).

You literally never have to visit Facebook.com proper, ever again.


Might be a good idea to create Greasemonkey script to hide Facebook news feed.


I feel like this totally defeats the purpose of facebook and he should just switch to email... but I'm glad he was able to hack at it to get it how he likes.


I wish this was possible, but ~80% of my friends are reachable almost exclusively through facebook. I too use facebook only for the chat because of this.


one fax machine alone...




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