Seventh Blog Entry Fri Aug 19

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In the previous article some tips were provided for how users can pop their personalized filter bubbles so they can access and view the neutral, unfiltered web. This article will provide details on how to prevent Facebook from filtering out posts from friends or pages in your your News Feed. Previous articles have discussed the unintended and possible dangerous consequence of having personalized filter bubbles online showing us information web companies think we want to see based on our previous purchases, clicks and searches online not what we have to see. The previous article noted while there was no magic bullet to do so there were some individual things users can do like deleting browser cookies, enabling private browsing and if their browser has a do not track feature turn it on to prevent tracking cookies from being installed on your computer. It also provided instructions for how to access and delete the cookies for Internet Explorer, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, how to erase the Web History in your Google account and turn off instant personalization in Facebook for partnered sites.

Before providing instructions on how to change the settings in your News Feed to prevent posts from friends and pages you have not clicked to “Like” or “Comment” on will provide some  background information on why they would do this and how Facebook filters the News Feed.  Having done so will also use examples provided by Eli Pariser of how some of his friends have disappeared from his News Feed and then provide the instructions needed on how to resolve this problem in the following paragraphs.

In a lecture on the filter bubble Eli Pariser gave at the TED conference he mentioned an interesting discovery he had made about Facebook’s News Feed. A video of this lecture is available by the way on YouTube titled “Beware online filter bubbles” for anyone wanting to see it. Anyways in his lecture Mr. Pariser mentions that although he is a liberal he has conservative friends and likes to know more about how conservatives think and what they write about so he often friends conservatives on Facebook. So Mr. Pariser was surprised one day when he discovered all his conservatives friend’s posts had been automatically removed from his News Feed. What had happened was that Facebook without consulting him had automatically started filtering those friends out of his News Feed because he did not click on links to their posts in his News Feed and interact with them very often.  Now one could argue having such filtering might be a good thing if you have liked too many public pages on Facebook whose posts appear on your News Feed and/or have too many friends for the News Feed to show all those posts it could result in an information overload with your News Feed becoming cluttered with too much information. However, if you have friends you’ve not recently interacted with whose posts you want to be able to see in the News Feed it would be a good idea to edit the settings for your News Feed so Facebook can’t filter out posts by any of your friends.

Facebook will filter out content from your News Feed from friends you’ve not recently interacted with. In order to disable filtering of your News Feed in Facebook there is a very simple solution. Scroll down to the bottom of your News Feed and click the Edit Options link. A window will popup allowing you to edit the settings for your News Feed.  On the window that pops up notice the option “See posts from” and click to change the settings for that option. By default you will notice the option is set to show friends and pages you interact with most. What this means unfortunately is that if you do not “Like” or “Comment” on updates from a friend or from a page over a certain period of time  then updates from those friends and pages will stop appearing in your News Feed.Now one might argue that Facebook activated this feature for the News Feed by default to make the News Feed more personally relevant to you. After all if you are interacting more with certain friends and pages it would make more sense for you to see their posts.  However, one might think that this is what the Top News link in your News Feed should be for but unfortunately this default setting also affects your Top News. The good news is the solution to resolve this problem is very simple. All you need to do is change the option from show friends and pages you interact with most to all of your friends and pages to prevent Facebook from filtering out posts from your News Feed. Well there you go you can now browse the neutral un-filtered web without any personalized filter bubbles getting in your way.

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