Give users more direct control over what they see.
People loooove complaining about their newsfeeds. Not just on Facebook, either. If there is a website that uses algorithms or content personalization systems to “curate” content for users, someone is complaining about how the robots aren’t doing it right.
The other day, I saw an article somewhere in which the author was upset because she clicks on every single gruesome murder link she is shown and for some reason the algorithms that control her feeds think that’s what she wants to see. In spite of clicking on every single one, she swears that she doesn’t REALLY want to see that. Apparently, she sold her self-control on eBay or something.
Anyway, here’s my thought: let users have more direct control over what they see.
Facebook asks people to help them teach their robots how to make the newsfeed good. These little surveys pop up and ask things like, “Does this feel like an ad?” and “Do you want to see more posts like this?”
That’s nice and all, but it never really gets at what I really want. Here’s an example: there’s this heterosexual man with whom I am friends on Facebook. I enjoy most of the content he posts and shares. EXCEPT. He likes to post pictures of semi-nude women. They’re beautiful women, but I don’t want to see those. At home, I just keep scrolling, but at work it creates some nervousness and awkward moments. I don’t want to block him because I really like all the other stuff he posts. Similarly, I have a few friends who share pictures of beefy guys in similar states of undress. Cool but, you know, NOT cool.
So, why can’t I have a setting that allows me to say something to the effect of, “Show me only the G-rated things?”
Or, “Hide all mentions of Sarah Palin.” Because I never ever need to hear about her ever again.
Or, “Limit posts about kale, Obamacare, Senate Democrats, Crossfit, lizard sex satellites, and Florida Man to less than six per day.” Strike that. I want to see more Florida Man and lizard sex in space. But let’s keep the other stuff to a minimum.
Let me have some explicit, not simply implicit through surveys, say in how my feeds should be filtered!
Now, I realize this would take a clever user experience designer and some engineers to make this happen. But I know these folks exist. Hop on it!