There are many, many legitimate criticisms you can make of Facebook. The death of the chronological news feed isn’t one of them.

I get it: you used to scroll through Facebook until you stopped seeing new things. It was easy, and there was a built-in stopping point. You had a sense of control over what you saw, and you never missed anything.

But it’s never coming back, and with good reason. A fascinating piece by Ben Evans, posted on ben-evans.com, outlines why the chronological feed needed to die. Basically it’s math.

RELATED: How Facebook's News Feed Sorting Algorithm Works

It’s not uncommon for people to “friend” 200-300 people every few years, and the result according to Facebook is that the average user’s friends post at least 1,500 things a day. Evans uses this number to explore further:

If you have 1,500 or 3,000 items a day, then the chronological feed is actually just the items you can be bothered to scroll through before giving up, which can only be 10% or 20% of what’s actually there. This will be sorted by no logical order at all except whether your friends happened to post them within the last hour. It’s not so much chronological in any useful sense as a random sample, where the randomizer is simply whatever time you yourself happen to open the app. ’What did any of the 300 people that I friended in the last 5 years post between 16:32 and 17:03?’ Meanwhile, giving us detailed manual controls and filters makes little more sense—the entire history of the tech industry tells us that actual normal people would never use them, even if they worked. People don’t file.

The rest of the article says that even the algorithmically sorted feed is starting to become overwhelming, and speculates sites are already moving beyond it. It’s well worth a read, so check it out.

Justin Pot Justin Pot
Justin Pot has been writing about technology for over a decade, with work appearing in Digital Trends, The Next Web, Lifehacker, MakeUseOf, and the Zapier Blog. He also runs the Hillsboro Signal, a volunteer-driven local news outlet he founded.
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