Facebook's Redesigned News Feed: 4 Things You Need to Know

In its third major update in a week, Facebook launched a new News Feed interface that predicts stories you'll find interesting and includes a ticker that updates in real-time. Here's what the changes mean for you.

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Wed, September 21, 2011

CIO — Continuing its streak of product launches and modifications, Facebook yesterday rolled out even more changes to its interface, which include an updated News Feed and an activity ticker. These latest additions follow a privacy center redesign, the introduction of Subscriptions and Facebook's new friend lists.

The News Feed redesign is intended to help you keep up with people that matter to you, regardless of how often you visit the site, according to Mark Tonkelowitz, an engineering manager at Facebook. It's heavily influenced by the new "smart lists" introduced last week, as the redesigned news feed "predicts" which stories will be important to you, and displays these first.

Facebook users, who are notorious for aversion to change, are already voicing their opinions, calling this redesign everything from "unnecessary" to "far too complicated."

Here's what you need to know about the new News Feed and ticker, how best to navigate them and whether the new changes influence your current privacy settings.

1. What You See Depends on How Often You Visit

Before yesterday's changes, when you logged into Facebook you could toggle between two views of your News Feed: Top News and Most Recent. Yesterday, Facebook combined these two in a single News Feed. Now, what you see when you first log in depends on how frequently you log in.

If you don't visit Facebook regularly, the next time you do you'll see top photos and status updates that were posted since the last time you visited the site. These are marked with a blue corner.


If you log into Facebook frequently, such as several times a day, you'll likely see the most recent stories first.

Even if you don't log in regularly, you can still view the most recent activity—just scroll down past the top stories until you see the "Recent Stories" header.

[Want more tips, tricks and details on Facebook privacy? Check out CIO.com's Facebook Bible.]

2. What's a Top Story?

According to Facebook, top stories are ones that it thinks you'll find interesting, based on a number of factors. These include your relationship to the person who posted the story, how many comments and likes it has, the type of post it is, and more.

Much like Google's Priority Inbox, it appears you may be able to help Facebook fine-tune what it thinks is and isn't important to you. If you hover over the top-right corner of a post that Facebook marks as a top story, a drop-down menu will appear.


If this post isn't something you'd consider important, you can choose the "Unmark as top story" option, which will remove it from that part of your News Feed.

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