When I started using Facebook in 2005, it was exclusive to college students and was by far the best way to communicate with my classmates. It was the first time I could learn what my friends were up to without asking each one individually. Everything I wanted to know about my friends was in one easily accessible place.
All recent updates were shown as one long list, but Facebook eventually introduced the News Feed. This was an effort to filter everyone’s updates to show just the most important ones. Facebook made educated guesses about whose updates were most important to you and hid the ones you wouldn’t care about. I think they also kept an option to see all updates in chronological order if you didn’t want to miss out on anything.
News Feed seemed fine at first, but unfortunately it’s no longer useful as a way to keep in touch with people. Instead of showing you the updates that should be most important to you, Facebook now shows you the things that you are most likely to click on. Often, this means you only see pictures or videos on the home page.
When people posted YouTube videos or links to articles, they got more clicks than regular status updates. Facebook liked that and started showing more and more videos and links in the News Feed, and this made them get even more clicks. At some point, people started noticing that posts about themselves got almost no attention, while links to content would get lots of reactions. People stopped posting about themselves and started posting links instead.
Facebook prioritizes this kind of content so much that my News Feed doesn’t have any information about my friends anymore. It’s filled with posts by strangers that my friends have liked or commented on at some point. Because Facebook’s criteria for a good post is now so different from what we should expect, we have tragic situations like people never noticing that their friends were dying.
Facebook no longer has any use to me as a communication platform. It has just turned into a click-generating machine.