The Facebook Newsfeed is a difficult computer science problem. As you joined the service, you began to add friends and like pages and as a result, your Newsfeed is filled with new posts from both sources. Perhaps the most obvious thing to do is to show this content ordered by date, most recent to oldest. The problem with that approach is two-fold, because something is most recent, doesn’t mean its the most important to you and there’s so much content, you’d miss plenty of content between Facebook sessions.
Comments have a similar challenge, should you see a conversation thread with the most recent responses at the top, the oldest at the top, the most liked comment or the comment with the most comments? To date, Facebook has allowed users to switch between comment views, but like your newsfeed, this doesn’t stick, you have to change everytime.
In the wake of recent Facebook controversies like fake news, political interference and data privacy problems, Facebook is trying a new approach and that’s to move from a more algorithm-based Newsfeed and comment structure, to move to a more human-powered ranking system. While Facebook are keen to point to AI as the real solution in the future, that’s not ready yet, so for now, we vote.
This morning when I fired up the Facebook mobile app and tapped into comments, I was presented with an alert that explained I was part of a group of users that can now vote to rank comments. With up and down arrows next to every comment, its not exactly an elegant solution and reminds me a lot of services like Reddit, and services like Digg and Slashdot in years gone by.