Tuesday 27 September 2016

Facebook lets people break their home page apart by topics

Andrew Griffin

Published 27/05/2016 | 14:45

Tool: Social media Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Tool: Social media Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Facebook is rolling out its new, topic-based news feed to users.

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The new timeline splits everyone’s posts apart into topics – such as such animals and pets or TV and movies – and means that people can then just look at a news feed that includes posts on those topics.

The new feature appears to be rolling out in Australia first – a common place to test new features. It arrives with just a pop-up alert telling people that “There's a new way to see a stream of stories that focus on a specific topic”.

Once the feature is added, users are given a set of suggested news feeds by default, which can include topics like animals and pets or TV and movies. Those appear to be created using the information that Facebook already knows, and are customised according to each person.

Users can add new topics as well customising the existing ones.

Once those news feeds are created, they will automatically sort the kinds of stories that Facebook things they should be filled with. As well as relevant stories from pages that a user likes, they will fill up with information from elsewhere too.

The site hasn’t made clear exactly why it is rolling out the new feature. It has indicated that it’s a way for people to find more stories – but it could also serve as a way of keeping more personal news in the “News Feed” column and attempting to deal with the problem of “context collapse”.

The strange new Facebook home page has been in testing since at least last year, and has been gradually rolling out to different platforms and locations since. Though Facebook often tests features that it doesn’t actually add to the full product, the feature has been in testing for so long and in so many forms that it seems unlikely it won’t be on its way to everyone’s version of the site soon.

Independent News Service

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