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Coming to Facebook: An 'Unfollow' button

Facebook is also tweaking its News Feed algorithm to focus on more actual news, according to reports.

By Matthew Shaer / December 3, 2013

Too much News Feed clutter? Facebook is introducing a new "Unfollow" button.

Paul Sakuma/AP/File

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Tell us if this scenario sounds familiar: You're introduced to a friend of a friend at a work event. You add him on Facebook. And although this person is really only a passing acquaintance, by the end of that week, your News Feed is so flooded by his photos and videos and longwinded diatribes against corporate oligarchy and orange Crocs that you can hardly find the updates from the people you really care about, like your family. 

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In the past, Facebook offered a Hide All button, that allowed you to effectively banish someone from your News Feed without banishing them from your circle of (upper case) Friends. But apparently, Hide All confused some people, because now, according to TechCrunch, Facebook is planning to roll out a functionality called "Unfollow," which will do... exactly the same thing as Hide All did. 

"What is changing is the specific wording," writes Anthony Ha of TechCrunch, who picked up the news from a Facebook spokesman. "Thanks to services like Twitter and Instagram, users have presumably become more familiar with the concept of unfollowing, and it seems that the language of following and unfollowing is becoming a bigger part of Facebook." 

OK, yes, the whole thing is a little silly. But it does demonstrate, as Mr. Ha notes, the ways in which Facebook is aping some of the more popular aspects of Twitter. Most recently, the company announced it would alter its algorithm to help keep actual news high on the News Feed and keep assorted clutter down lower. 

"Our surveys show that on average people prefer links to high quality articles about current events, their favorite sports team or shared interests, to the latest meme," a pair of Facebook engineers wrote in a blog post announcing the changes. "Starting soon, we’ll be doing a better job of distinguishing between a high quality article on a website versus a meme photo hosted somewhere other than Facebook when people click on those stories on mobile. This means that high quality articles you or others read may show up a bit more prominently in your News Feed, and meme photos may show up a bit less prominently." 

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