Facebook is adding customizable interest-based feeds. A newspaper made up of all the world's newspapers. pic.twitter.com/Ll7pib6Mb5- Jason Stein (@jasonwstein) December 29, 2015
Facebook is testing a new way to explore your News Feed on mobile with a customizable interface that lets you separate your feed into multiple categories based on selected interests and personal preferences. Examples of categories a user can implement are style, travel, sports, news, food, and more. Each category can be further drilled down to the inclusion or exclusion of specific subcategories.
The tests actually began in October, but have now begun including mobile, which provides some evidence that the original tests have proven successful and have been deemed worthy of expansion.
The interesting thing about the new system is that the content under each category will be a combination of posts from friends and pages that a user actually follows, along with posts from people and pages the user doesn't. This will further encourage users to make friends, like pages, and see ads from previously unseen sources, which pushes along the Facebook agenda of having seemingly everyone be in contact with everyone else.
Plus, considering that Facebook receives a lot of revenue from being able to provide user data to create targeted ads, they are creating value for advertisers by getting their users to literally self-categorize by interest. For example, it's easy to tell a fashion advertiser that you have an audience valuable to them when that audience has literally designated themselves as interested in fashion.
Which is not to criticize this move by Facebook too harshly. One of the frustrations of the current News Feed algorithm is that a lot of it is filled with junk that the user isn't really interested in. This way, is someone is only in the mood to read about sports, they can simply switch to that feed.
What this all means to the increasingly compartmentalized nature of our information gathering in the digital age remains unknown. Will this lead to us being able to further remove ourselves from the possibility of ever hearing voices that disagree with us? Or is this just a neat way to gather and organize cool info about the stuff we're interested in? We'll only find out when Facebook rolls out this new option to their full user base, which will probably be soon.