Back in October, Facebook introduced a new initiative to put Page content in a separate feed from content within a user’s personal network. It was one of the first efforts from Facebook to shift its emphasis from advertisers to users — and it would live under what the social media channel called the Explore Feed.
Facebook ended that initiative today — which Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri called “a trial response to consistent feedback” in the official announcement.
“We constantly try out new features,” Mosseri wrote. “Some of these changes … work well … others don’t and we drop them.”
While Mosseri writes that the Explore Feed was one response to long-term feedback, many believe that it was part of a larger response to the heightened scrutiny Facebook received among allegations that it was weaponized to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The introduction of the Explore Feed was just one new initiative among a series of efforts made by Facebook to phase out the amount of branded content in users’ feeds, which was reinforced in January when it announced that the algorithm would change to focus on the visibility of content from people’s friends and families.
And while that move continues to be progressing, maintaining two separate feeds was not the best means to that end. In surveys, Mosseri explained, users said that they didn’t want to have to navigate multiple feeds.
“Having two separate feeds,” he wrote, “didn’t actually help [users] connect more with friends and family.”
As we wrote in October, the purpose of the Explore Feed was never to replace the News Feed. Rather, users who already Liked certain Pages would still see content from them, with the caveat that Facebook would go on to make the aforementioned algorithm change a few months later.
But as the pressure on Facebook to curb and prevent the spread of false information has yet to relent, it’s likely that it will continue to test new features with this end goal — even with the discontinuation of the Explore Feed.
In addition to that discontinuation, another takeaway from this test is Facebook’s own need to be more transparent when experimenting with new features like this one.
“We also received feedback that we made it harder for people in the test countries to access important information,” Mosseri wrote, “and that we didn’t communicate the test clearly.”
In response, he says, Facebook is reevaluating how and where it will test new features, in addition to how it alerts users that these experiments are taking place.
As always, we’ll be keeping an eye on these developments.
Featured image credit: Facebook