Humanity can feel a bit smug this week, after some reassuring evidence that we're still necessary to keep civilization humming along.
Yesterday’s seemingly unrelated meltdowns of the New York Stock Exchange, United Airlines and the Wall Street Journal made clear that computers, even very important ones, crack under pressure. And it takes the human touch to get them back to working order.
There are many things that are improved with the help of a human. But until now, Facebook has been reluctant to acknowledge that we’re better curators of our feed than an algorithm.
The social media giant, which exists purely because of content generated by its users, has historically had a disparaging view of letting us tweak how we use it. From rearranging our timeline by what’s “Most Relevant” to still not having a way to replace baby photos with cats, Facebook’s philosophy has been to take the user out of the experience whenever possible. (How else do you explain that GIFs didn’t work on the site until a couple weeks ago?)
That ended with some new features that at least address one of the site’s biggest problems with an algorithm-curated feed: missing posts from the most important people in our lives.
Tell Facebook not just who you want to see less of, but who you want to see more of. All of the posts by the people (and businesses) you put on this list will be displayed at the top of your feed.
Has the friend you unfollowed when they wouldn’t stop talking about “Game of Thrones” reformed their ways? You can now see a list of the people you unfollowed and decide who to let back into your social circle.
Unlike Twitter’s grab-bag email recommendations that arrive every time you follow someone new, Facebook will make a list of people, groups and businesses you can follow based on pages you’ve liked in the past.
Thanks, Facebook. We know that in Silicon Valley, it’s not cool to admit that “ultimately you’re the only one who truly knows what is most meaningful to you,” but (for now, at least) that’s still true.
Eva Kis is on Twitter @thisiskis, where she talks about pop culture, cats and media almost as much as food.