On Saturday 16 August, I decided that I would try not Liking things on Facebook for a while. I thought I’d just not do it for two weeks, but it’s expanded beyond that, while I’ve retrained myself to leave a comment rather than just liking things. It’s become normal to me to not press the Like button. I was originally inspired by Elan Morgan not Liking things on the social platform, who had been inspired by Mat Honan who had tried Liking everything he saw on the site. I’m not sure what my expectations were, but I figured that Facebook would dish things on my news feed just a bit differently.
What has happened to my news feed these past weeks? I can’t say the quality of what I’ve seen has improved. Overall, much of it still seems irrelevant to my interests. I’m not seeing more posts from any friends that I wasn’t seeing much of to begin with. I do feel that post engagement from myself and others has improved – commenting rather than Liking has meant that there’s been more for everyone to engage and interact with.
There is one biggish change I have noticed and maybe it’s only a problem for people such as myself who use Facebook as one way of finding out about the latest news:
My news feed became boring
I’ve Liked a huge number of pages over the years I’ve been using Facebook and I’m well aware of the algorithm changes it made last year that saw social referrals drop significantly for websites that shared content on Facebook. Not Liking things definitely worsened the lack of varied content, because that was one of the main things FB’s algorithm used to determine whether to show more posts from particular pages. Where before I would at least see stories from a huge variety of Facebook pages, ranging from Lance Henriksen’s Facebook Page to posts by The Independent to stories by Eurogamer and many more, I now only regularly see posts from a minority of pages.
The Independent would consistently show-up in my news feed, but posts from Eurogamer have decreased and posts from Lance’s page have completely disappeared from my news feed. This is a great shame because I love videogames and Lance Henriksen far more than current affairs and click bait.
Sure I saw plenty of posts from my friends, but this became almost intolerable during the ice bucket challenge deluge that gripped the social network recently. I could have really done with the odd story about games drama or Lance making an appearance at a convention during all of that.
Am I going to start Liking things again?
Realising just how much I’m missing out from in terms of my favourite media and celebrities… I think I’m going to start Liking things again. It’s all good and well seeing more posts from friends, but the ones I find really important I was already signed-up to get notifications when they posted. And I still wasn’t seeing posts from people Facebook had already, probably, determined I found boring before I stopped Liking things on there. So yeah: I’m probably going to individually hop onto some of the pages I love and give some posts a few Likes just so that I can get news on Lance Henriksen again.
However, there is a balance to be found here. I feel that I will maintain commenting on posts by friends over Liking them, because those few conversations were at least interesting and seemed more genuine. It just doesn’t work if you want to see the odd random news story about something you may or already do find cool.