Facebook has introduced a new change which lets users know why they are seeing a particular post in their newsfeed, be it a photo, video, status update, shared URL or anything else. This information helps users understand what data Facebook used to show that post and also gives quick options to manage what they see in their feed moving forward.
Facebook already has such a feature for ads, introduced back in 2014. That feature ‘Why am I seeing this ad?’ helped users understand what data was used to decide that they should be shown the ad. The feature was a welcome addition in providing some sort of transparency to users and has been extended to all posts now, along with some enhancements.
Facebook now shows the source of a specific post, whether it’s because a friend posted it, a group posted it or a page. Users also see their interactions with that friend, group or post. For example, users might see if they often like that friend’s posts or comment on them. Users can also see the popularity of that post in a particular page or group to understand why it’s appearing in their feed.
A few controls in the same user interface allow simple management like unfollowing friends, pages and groups so that user don’t see posts from them again. Alternatively, these friends, pages and groups can also be configured to show first in a user’s news feed. Links to news feed preferences and privacy shortcuts are also available to provide users more utility in the menu.
‘Why am I seeing this ad’ has also received an additional feature. It now shows the user when the advertiser uploaded the users phone number or email address to show targeted ads to them. Facebook allows advertisers to upload lists of emails and phone numbers to target users, but doesn’t reveal the identities of those users. ‘Why am I seeing this ad’ will now show a timeline of when the advertiser uploaded the list of customer information and when they allowed a marketing partner to run ads using that data.
These features don’t really bring back user privacy but instead provide transparency of what’s happening with their data and how it’s being used to show them information and ads.