Facebook’s new rocket button launches a second News Feed

Facebook’s new rocket button launches a second News Feed
Credit: Thiago Araújo / Twitter

Some Facebook users have recently spotted a new ‘rocket ship’ button in the mobile app, alongside the News Feed button. Depending on whether you use iOS or Android, it’s at the bottom or top of your screen.

It’s essentially a second feed of content Facebook thinks you might enjoy, based on things you’ve shown an interest in – but the posts will come from sources you haven’t explicitly liked yet.

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In a statement to TechCrunch, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed that it’s introduced the button as part of a global experiment:

We are testing a complementary feed of popular articles, videos, and photos, customized for each person based on content that might be interesting to them. We’ve heard from people that they want an easy way to explore new content they haven’t connected with yet.

This isn’t quite what I had in mind when I wrote last November about wanting a second Facebook feed. At that point, we were just days away from the US presidential elections; I felt like I couldn’t understand then-president-elect Trump’s appeal at all, and believed that my social media feeds must be skewed towards leftist opinions, which led me to only hear about why Hillary Clinton was a better choice.

Facebook’s new feed has nothing to do with this: it only serves to bring you more content that’s similar to what you already see when you fire up your default feed. While it may delight information junkies, it won’t do much to expand your worldview.

I’d like to see the feature tweaked to allow you to choose what sort of content it should surface from outside your bubble: posts from the other end of the political spectrum, news and album releases from musicians you aren’t familiar with, and so on.

Of course, that’s probably out of the question because a strategy like that won’t bring in as many clicks and ad views as similarly-aligned content. But one can dream.

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