Facebook’s EdgeRank and How to Stop it from Filtering Friends’ News & Updates

Update Feb. 2011: Facebook has changed the filtering options, and now provides an option to show posts from “All of your friends and pages.” This is exactly what I was asking for in my original post, which is awesome to see. Either someone was listening, or someone at Facebook arrived at the same conclusion as myself, but regardless of how it was done, it is much appreciated. Check this setting now!

Original Post: Have you ever looked at the Facebook app on your mobile phone and noticed updates from Friends or Pages that don’t appear in your feed when you log in the normal way through Facebook.com? Even if you click on the Most Recent tab, which is supposed to be a “Live Feed” of all status updates, you’ll notice some are being filtered out, despite you never telling Facebook to hide those friends or pages.

This may be partly due to EdgeRank, an algorithm Facebook uses to determine what News items you would find most interesting to display in your Top News feed. This algorithm ranks status updates according to how close you are to the person who posted the update by looking at how often you interact with the person (e.g. do you send them lots of messages, likes, and pokes?) and when the last time you interacted with that person was (if you used to message & poke a lot, but now don’t, say for an ex-girlfriend, then those interactions will be devalued since they happened so long ago). More on EdgeRank can be read at TechCrunch. But this post isn’t about Top News or EdgeRank, per say…

My gripe is that “Most Recent” doesn’t contain all of the status updates posted from my friends and Pages I like. For whatever reason, some are still being filtered out, even though the Most Recent tab is supposed to be a live feed. My theory is that either EdgeRank is being used to filter out those items that score very low – e.g. items from friends or Pages I’ve rarely interacted with, or some kind of different filtering mechanism that is being used to filter out those items Facebook thinks I wouldn’t be interested in. When I compare the Most Recent feed on Facebook.com and the unfiltered feed on my mobile or TweetDeck, it seems to be plausible that items that would have the lowest EdgeRank are being filtered out, as those items are generally from people I haven’t interacted with in a long time. However I can’t confirm the filtering is done using EdgeRank, and it doesn’t really matter for the purposes of this article – what I can confirm is that items are being filtered out of “Most Recent” in one way or another.

I can see some merit to filtering out items from the Most Recent view, vis-a-vis the classic “Twitter is just people posting what they had for Breakfast” argument, and Facebook not wanting to be viewed as location of worthless status updates of distant friend’s breakfast menus.

My issue (and plea) is that I wish there was some option to display ALL status updates from all friends and pages with no filtering applied, be it a third option (e.g. Top News, Most Recent, View All) or a setting I can opt into in my Account Preferences section.

Part of what I do like about Facebook is the ability to keep in touch with a large number of people spread out across the world in many different stages of their life. The variety and mix of age, gender, sexual preferences, political affiliations and philosphies is good for getting a well rounded view of what people think, and I find opposing opinions interesting, even if I don’t always agree with them. By filtering out those people I don’t interact with often, or maybe those who I fell out of touch with, I don’t have an opportunity to get back in touch with them, or discover a mutual interest that we both share (perhaps even a breakfast item, but I digress…).

Another argument for an option to remove all filters and truly display ALL status updates is to satisfy those that are on Facebook A LOT, and have already read all of the “Most Recent” updates. You can call these people “Power Users” as they’re on Facebook constantly and reading every status update (or you could also call them people with too much time on their hands…). These “Power Users” would spend even more time on Facebook if they had more content to consume, such as adding an option to view ALL updates with no filtering applied. However these Power Users are better off using a third party client like Tweetdeck to view updates, as you’ll see in my tips below, than viewing status updates on Facebook.com.

Here are some tips if you are a “Power User” and want to view ALL updates with no filtering:

  1. Use the mobile application (e.g. Facebook for iPhone or Facebook for Android) – in my experience, there is no filtering here whatsoever, including no option for Top News
  2. Use a desktop client – TweetDeck, HootSuite and other 3rd party desktop clients will pull in your News Feed via an API, and again, as far as I can tell, no filtering is applied, and no semblence of EdgeRank or Top News is present.
  3. Edit your feed settings – At the bottom of your news feed click “edit options” in the right corner and a box pops up that says “number of friends.” Make sure that is set to a number larger than the total number of friends you have (I put in 1,000 as an arbitrary number) – hat tip to @AbbyGilmore for the tip!
  4. Interact more frequently with distant friends, or at least those friends that you want to ensure stay in your feed as much as possible. Perhaps the suggestion Facebook gives you to “reach out to Jane Smith and say hello” in the right sidebar is less of a suggestion, and more of a subtle warning that if you don’t reach out, Facebook will start filtering him or her out as you haven’t interacted with them in a while
  5. Encourage friends to interact with you – If you run a Facebook Page for your business or personal organization, try to encourage your fans to interact with your page as much as possible, or you may start to get filtered. Likewise your personal account will be getting filtered from distant friends’ “Most Recent” feed, which may or may not be a concern to you.
  6. View Individual Profile Pages – If you really want to know how a friend is doing, you can view the updates by going to their Profile Page – this isn’t feasible if you have hundreds of friends, but it is a work-around

Facebook is a rapidly changing platform and user feedback is frequently incorporated into future iterations and changes. I hope that those out in Facebook land hear this request and take it as constructive criticism. In fact, I’m such a Facebook super-fan I carved a pumpkin this Halloween to demonstrate how much I “like” their platform & service:

Facebook Pumpkin

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