Facebook allows comment disabling in algorithm shake-up

Facebook users will now be given the option to turn off comments on public posts, in a big move announced today by the social media giant. 

Source: Associated Press

They're following in the footsteps of Twitter, which added a similar moderation tool last year, giving content publishers more control over their posts. 

New controls mean users of the platform can limit their posts to only allow comments from their friends or go even stricter by limiting comments for just people or pages who are directly tagged. 

Facebook product manager Ramya Sethuraman said the change aims to connect users with what matters most to them. 

"This new tool is the latest example of how we’re helping you control and curate your news feed to best reflect who you are as your interests and priorities evolve." 

Users will have more control over what they see on their news feed thanks to the new filtered setting, which lets you choose on how you want your feed ordered: chronologically, your chosen favourites first or from Facebook's algorithm. 

Facebook’s vice president of global affairs penned an essay attempting to address some of the criticism that the social media platform and its algorithm have faced recently. 

Nick Clegg shot down the assumption that social media "fuels polarisation, exploits human weakness and insecurities and echo chambers where everyone gets their own slice of reality". 

Facebook's new update allows users to limit who can comment on posts. Source: Facebook

He argues that in the longer-term, in order for users to feel comfortable with its algorithm, companies must give more control back to the user themselves to dictate how their platform caters to the individual.

"It is entirely reasonable to argue that private companies shouldn’t be making so many big decisions about what content is acceptable on their own. We agree". 

Like the "spam filter in your inbox", the algorithms are designed to filter through a mass of content and carefully select what best suits them to make it easier to navigate. 

"Perhaps it is time to acknowledge it is not simply the fault of faceless machines? Consider, for example, the presence of bad and polarising content on private messaging apps — iMessage, Signal, Telegram, WhatsApp — used by billions of people around the world," he writes. 

While he says decisions around how algorithms work would be easiest if decided by governments, in a space where there are no laws these companies have to make their own decisions in real time. 

Facebook's algorithm has copped countless criticism in recent years over its select ability to polarise opinions. It's been blamed for fuelling events like the Christchurch mosque attacks in 2019, live streamed by a gunman who killed 51 people. 

During the Christchurch Call, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called out social media platforms who she blamed for directing users towards "violent extremist content".