Internet Social Media

Don’t Be an Experiment: How to Control Your Facebook News Feed

Justin Pot 03-07-2014

Don’t want Facebook manipulating your emotions for science? Take control of which posts you do and don’t see.


Once upon a time, Facebook’s timeline worked how you’d expect. You could log on and see all the posts from your friends, in chronological order. That changed when Facebook switched from showing “All Posts” by default to showing only the “Top Posts” – something the company says is necessary because of the staggering number of friends many users have.

What determines what is and isn’t a top post? A number of factors, including how often you interact with a given person, the sorts of topics you’re interested in, how many likes or comments a particular post attracts, and – apparently – psychological experiments.

Wait, What? Experiments?

As most people know by now, Facebook manipulated top posts to conduct an experiment Facebook Experiments On Users, Having Sex With Your iPad, And More... [Tech News Digest] Also, The Internet's Own Boy is worth watching, BlackBerry invites us to check our facts, Photoshop Express lands on Windows Phone, binge-watching is bad, and Apple paints the iPhone as an extra parent. Read More . From the abstract:

We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness

Basically, Facebook intentionally showed some people happier posts than usual; others, sadder posts. They then kept track of whether people were more likely to post happy or sad things as a result. It turns out this works.

When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred.

Some may find this fascinating. Others find it disturbing. If you’re in the second camp, it’s time to take more control over what information you do and don’t see on Facebook.


On The Desktop: View The “Most Recent” Posts

If you want to avoid being experimented on, don’t let Facebook filter your posts. The simplest way to do this is to view the “Most Recent” posts instead of the “Top Posts”. Doing this is easy enough:


You’ll now see your most recent posts, along with a passive-aggressive prompt encouraging you to switch back to “Top Posts”.



Sadly, Facebook doesn’t offer a way to make this your default timeline – the “Top Posts” will show up again later. If you use a bookmark to access Facebook, you can go straight to the “Most Recent” posts using the following URL:


Chrome users can go a step further, by installing the Force Facebook Most Recent extension [No longer available]. Users of other browsers, or Chrome users wanting even more power, should check out SocialFixer, which, in addition to letting you make “All Posts” the default, also lets you clean up your Facebook news feed Clean Up Your Facebook News Feed With Social Fixer Filtering [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook has become a one size fits all social networking platform. The typical News Feed is filled with randomly mixed updates from friends, family, colleagues, and various pages. While you may want to see all... Read More by removing notifications for games and the like.

On Mobile: Use These Alternative Apps

Facebook’s mobile app does not let you set “Most Recent” as the default – you have to do a little digging to find it:


Don’t Be an Experiment: How to Control Your Facebook News Feed android facebook friendcaster

If you’d rather have this behaviour by default, you’re out of luck: Facebook stopped doing that. But you’re not without hope: alternative Facebook apps such as Friendcaster [No longer available] for Android and iPad give you the full news feed by default. Read up on alternative Android Facebook apps Faster, Leaner, Better - Alternatives To The Android Facebook App Oh, the joys of having social media available to us at any time of day thanks to the advent of the smartphone. Facebook has always been (at least on the surface) about connecting with your... Read More for more information.

Or, Just Stop Using Facebook

Of course, these are basically workarounds that avoid the most obvious solution: stop using Facebook. The company’s made it pretty clear they see their users as a commodity, and that’s not likely to change. This recent news is only the latest example of that.

So what’s the alternative? Well, these social networks might end up replacing Facebook Could These 3 Social Networks Succeed Facebook? Facebook might shed 80% of its users by 2017, but which social network will succeed it? Here are some likely candidates. Read More , but it seems unlikely – and there’s no guarantee any of these will care anymore than Facebook does. Unless we all agree this is a problem, things will stay the same.


So, will things stay the same? Let’s talk about this.

Image Credits: Crazy professor Via Shutterstock

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  1. Sandy Coulter
    July 7, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Justin, how about if we all go back to AOL? They really had the best and first social networking platform with private chat rooms, message boards and IMs. AOL became totally free so I don't understand why everyone left it. They never pulled the kind of crap FB does. If you didn't want to see ads, you could opt out. You could customize the fonts, the sounds, everything. I am still on aol, but its pretty lonely there now.

  2. Sandy Coulter
    July 6, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    There should be a movement to leave FB, a place to go that everyone will want to follow to get out of their clutches. I always switch to recent posts but FB will switch me back next time. I don't use the mobile app at all because I have better things to do than play with my phone. Even when switched to most recent posts, I still see week and month old posts included.

    • Justin P
      July 7, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      I agree, but the question is where we'll go after leaving FB. Anything owned by a single company will eventually start doing stuff like this, so we'd need something that's relatively open. Some have tried to make this, but none of succeeded...

  3. Christian H
    July 6, 2014 at 12:51 am

    Fb has a lot of issues anymore as fat as I'm concerned & seems to be never ending. I am happy to hear that there is a way around some of their non sense tho. Thanks for sharing

  4. Suzi L
    July 6, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Well this is interesting. My reposts of this article aren't showing anywhere in FB. Blocked?

    • Justin P
      July 6, 2014 at 5:30 pm

      I've posted this on my wall to test, and at least one person shared my post, so I don't think they're blocking the article.

  5. Hung Nguyen Ngoc
    July 5, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    I think, we can Unfollow with friends and use Get Notifications :D

  6. Vlado G
    July 5, 2014 at 3:19 pm - best of

  7. Christine J
    July 5, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Why won't this article post to Facebook? I love your information and I share a lot of them. Thank you for all your articles.

    • Justin P
      July 5, 2014 at 2:16 pm

      I just tried posting it myself, and it seems like it worked. For a second there I thought another experiment was underway...

      What happenes when you try to post this to Facebook?

  8. Bud
    July 5, 2014 at 12:22 am

    Good article as a much-needed reminder. I installed the latest version extension called ' F.B. Purity' from my browser and eliminated a lot of "in-your-face" junk on my FB homepage. For me personally, I only use it to post on "my notes" page, great articles and to play a few games to wile away my free time as retired senior citizen........otherwise FB is really a vast wasteland of useless junk !

  9. Sal
    July 4, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    More kudos for Social Fixer. It allows you to create tabs and make your own filters using regular expressions. Now I only have to see posts about cats and politics when I'm in need of self flagellation (never). You can override and set preferences that FB wished you couldn't, and you can invoke a theme that garish bright blue layout into shades of gray. It's not perfect (Facebook tries to defeat it's features from time to time), but it's the best way to exercise some control while we look forward to the dat that FB is about as relevant as AOL.

  10. Schvenn M
    July 4, 2014 at 1:46 am

    The FaceBook Purity extension is also a great way to take back control.

    • Angela A
      July 4, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Nice - thanks for sharing!

    • Justin P
      July 4, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      It's called FluffBusting Purity now, because FB doesn't want people using their identity to promote products. Interesting, eh?

  11. Tom E
    July 4, 2014 at 1:21 am

    Um, a clarification -- even the "most recent posts" doesn't show you all the posts. It's QUITE aggravating! I resorted to custom "interest lists" (e.g. t-shirts, gaming, music, cosplay), and put people / pages into that.

    You get to see ALL the posts, chronologically. However, they quickly fall off the bottom of the page ... I'm not sure if it is a chronological drop-off (e.g. one week), or if there is a total number of posts drop-off. But, it's still better than missing things that I specifically signed up for (e.g. "liked").

    • Angela A
      July 4, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      Yeah, "Most Recent" is just your friends, not the pages. For pages, you need to have them in interest lists in order to keep tabs on them. Annoying, but true.

    • Justin P
      July 4, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      Yeah, this is just for friends. Facebook's made it clear they hate pages some time ago...

  12. Anne
    July 4, 2014 at 12:15 am

    I've been using Social Fixer, a free add-on program, for quite some time now and I love it. I can mark entire threads as read so they don't show up in my newsfeed anymore, filter by keywords (very handy in an election year), and all kinds of neat little tricks. The guy behind it works tirelessly on updates whenever Facebook changes their code, too. I may sound like a shill but I assure you, I'm just an ordinary social media user trying to wade through the crap and this has been the best thing to help me.

    • Angela A
      July 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      Social Fixer rocks. You're very right.

    • me
      April 8, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      Social Fixer doesn't work on mobile browsers.

    • Justin Pot
      April 8, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      Mobile browsers miss out on a lot of great browser extensions, and I'm not sure when that's going to change.

  13. Catherine
    July 3, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    I fell for it like a dope! I only use FB for bookmarks and some group things, I have no friends on it, but someday I'll learn what they are really up to. In the mean time, I'm over it.

    • Tom S
      July 4, 2014 at 8:57 am

      My 4 sons, their wives, and my 8 grands are on it, and since they all hate to email, so am I