Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) has introduced an “Unfollow” button and tweaked its news feed algorithm to show more links to shared news articles, and fewer memes, the company said, in a blog post on Monday.
The new "Unfollow" option replaces the previous "Hide all" button and will allow a user to block content from another user without notifying them, thus allowing users to blot out updates they don't care about without worrying about upsetting others. The social networking giant has placed the "Unfollow" button next to the usual “Like” button on a page, and next to the “Friends” button on a user’s personal timeline.
"This means you are still friends, but updates from that person won't appear in your News Feed. The goal of this change is to help people curate their newsfeed and see more of the content that they care about," Facebook said.
Facebook’s tweak to its news feed algorithm is intended to show the “right content to the right people at the right time whether it's from a close friend or a news source halfway across the world,” the company said in the blog post.
The company said its users appeared to be enjoying reading more news articles on Facebook than ever, and reported that the average referral traffic from Facebook to media sites had increased by over 170 percent in the past year.
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According to the social networking giant, it is working on methods to improve its algorithm to better distinguish between high quality articles on a website and a meme photo. It added that news article links now will also feature a new box suggesting related news links to the story.
“Our surveys show that on average people prefer links to high quality articles about current events, their favorite sports team or shared interests, to the latest meme,” the company said. “This means that high quality articles you or others read may show up a bit more prominently in your News Feed, and meme photos may show up a bit less prominently.”