Facebook Changes News Feed to Focus on ‘Top Stories’

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Three things, they say, are certain in life: death, taxes, and Facebook redesigns. The social network, notorious for tinkering with its home page, has just introduced changes to the Facebook news feed with an emphasis on “top stories” instead of recent posts.

Facebook users who don’t regularly visit the site will only see these top stories, which are based on your relationship to the person who posted, the type of story posted and the number of comments and likes received. Frequent visitors will see an option to expand recent posts at the top of the page. Top stories are marked with a little blue triangle in the top-left corner of each post.

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In a blog post, Facebook’s Mark Tonkelowitz likens the new look to a personalized newspaper. “You won’t have to worry about missing important stuff,” he wrote. “All your news will be in a single stream with the most interesting stories featured at the top.”

To make up for the lack of a proper timeline in Facebook’s main news feed, a “news ticker” now appears on the top-right corner of the screen, showing friends’ latest updates in chronological order. Clicking on these updates shows the full story and all related likes and comments. (You may have noticed the news ticker already; it’s now available to all users.)

You can also view status updates in chronological order by using lists, including the new “smart lists” that launched last week.

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Not surprisingly, some Facebook users are already riled up about the redesign. “Stop changing,” Brandi Genest Weeks wrote on Facebook’s blog post. “You’re becoming MySpace and I left there for a reason.”

But most users will probably enjoy the changes over time. How do I know this? Let’s consult a TIME story from 2006, in which students protest the addition of the news feed:

“By its nature, News Feed is intrusive, and that’s what upsets students. It’s one thing to casually check out a friend’s updated profile between classes. It’s another to be unwillingly inundated with each friend’s latest Facebook antics.”

If protests are still happening five years later, they’ve been largely muted by vast numbers of people who are active news feed users. What people really don’t like, more than any particular new feature, is change. They’ll adapt. We all do.

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