Facebook's News Feed is unquestionably one of the most important parts of the site — it's the first thing you see when you visit, and the quality of that experience probably dictates to a large degree how useful you find Facebook in general. The company has spent a lot of time working on ways to make sure it surfaces interesting and relevant content — but no matter how good its algorithms are, there's a good chance that your page is often littered with stuff from "friends" you're not that close with and pages you've liked over the years that you can't remember liking in the first place.
That's why Facebook is rolling out a new set of controls that make it a lot easier to see more of what's relevant to you in your News Feed — and perhaps more importantly, it makes it easier to banish things you don't care about. In Facebook's iOS app, there's now a new News Feed preferences tool that presents you with four simple tools. The first is entirely new to Facebook: you can now select pages and friends that will show up at the top of your News Feed every time you load it up so you don't miss updates you always want to see.
The next two settings expand upon the "unfollow" feature that lets you stay friends with people without seeing their inane rants or horrible links on your News Feed every morning. (You're probably just better off taking the plunge and de-friending these people altogether, but we've obviously reached a point in society where that's just too aggressive a move for a lot of people.) There's now a tool that lets you zip through all the people you're friends with and add them to your "unfollow" list — it's a lot easier than the current process for unfollowing someone.
Silence that friend who just can't stop sharing terrible links
On the flip side, there's also an area that lets you see everyone you've unfollowed and add them back into your feed. Helpfully, it tells you when you unfollowed them — so if someone's been in your Facebook time out for three years, you can easily know that and give them another shot if you wish.
The last new tool is a discovery option to find new pages to follow, based on pages you've liked in the past. On the surface, it doesn't quite seem to fit as well with the other options, but Facebook said its overarching goal with the new settings is to make your News Feed show you things you care about across the board — whether that means making it so your favorite friends and pages show up at the top of your feed, removing friends whose posts you don't want to see, or adding pages that show you content you care about.
As someone whose own news feed has gotten rather unruly over the years, this seems like a pretty smart way of dealing with the digital baggage longtime Facebook users have accrued over the years. While most of these features aren't truly new, having them all in one place to access will likely make power-washing your News Feed a lot easier than it used to be. These new settings are first rolling out in Facebook's iOS app, and they'll be available on Android and on the web within the next few weeks.