For a couple of years now, Facebook has had a two-tabbed News Feed, one with "Top Stories," or updates Facebook thought you'd be interested in (based on your browsing history), while the other tab had the "Most Recent" updates. Facebook has apparently decided to get rid of this two-tabbed interface and integrate users' Top Stories and Most Recent Stories in one big, smart, News Feed.
Now when you log in to Facebook, you'll see a smart News Feed with all of your updates -- both the "important" and recent ones -- in one place. Facebook will still try to determine which stories will most interest you, and will highlight these "top stories" with a pale blue corner.
Facebook says that the top stories will depend on how long it's been since you've logged into Facebook. In other words, if you haven't visited the site in awhile, your top stories may not be extremely recent (rather, Facebook will try to give you an overview of the important stuff that happened when you were gone). But if you just logged in five minutes ago, your top stories will probably all have happened within the last five minutes.
According to Facebook's Updates to News Feed FAQ page, top stories are determined based on a number of factors. These factors include your relationship to the person posting the update, how many comments and likes the update receives, and what type of update it is. You can still hide updates if you think they're boring or spammy (even if they are from your best friend) by hovering over them and clicking the drop-down menu. This menu gives you the option of hiding the story, hiding all posts by that person, and reporting the story as (real) spam.
Facebook's new News Feed has only been live for a few hours, but people are already voicing their annoyance on PCWorld's Facebook page.
"I don't like this update because now it's a bit more confusing to find recent updates," says PCWorld reader Devon Tourond. "I do like the new update they added to the top of the page, now I can scroll through the page and the header follows me."
"FB should have a simple toggle function between 'recent stories' and 'top stories,' " says PCWorld reader Anthony Nozzi. "Better yet, they should enable a user to prioritize their news feeds by assigning a ranking score to each particular page that provides the news feeds. That way, a user can control which pages get the highest priority in providing news feeds."
Facebook's also added a real-time feed in the upper-right corner of the page. Some readers are concerned that this will adversely affect their privacy, but as far as I can see the updates in the box will not share more than can normally be found on a person's private profile page.