Don't fall for the hoax: Facebook isn't restricting your News Feed to 26 friends

  • There’s a viral Facebook post making the rounds that claims the News Feed is restricting what you see to just 26 friends.
  • Spoiler alert: It’s just not true.

No, Facebook is not restricting the content you see on your News Feed to just 25 or 26 friends.

Over the last year, a hoax has been making the rounds on the social network. It claims, in essence, that Facebook has implemented an algorithm change that means you will only see posts from a select few of your friends. Anyone else is flat out of luck.

The hoax encourages users to combat this by copying and pasting a faux-informative message about the “change” – and then asking users’ friends to reply to the post.

Here’s one example Business Insider has seen (the wording often varies slightly):

Hello Friends – I’m jumping on the bandwagon too….Fighting this Facebook algorithm change, because I’m noticing I am not seeing so many of my friends posts. Here is how to avoid hearing from the same 26 FB friends and nobody else. This post explains why we don’t see all posts from our friends. Funny, I thought if I followed you on Facebook I would see what you post. Not anymore…..

Your newsfeed recently shows only posts from the same few people, about 25, repeatedly the same, because Facebook has a new algorithm….

Their system chooses the people who will read your posts. However I would like to choose for myself, therefore, I ask you all a favour- if you are reading this message leave me a quick comment, a “hey” or sticker, whatever you want, so you will appear in my newsfeed please!

Otherwise Facebook chooses who to show me and I don’t need Facebook to choose my friends. Please copy and paste on your wall so you can have more interaction with all your contacts and bypass the system. That’s why we don’t see all posts from our friends.

Hold your finger down anywhere on this post and “copy” will pop up. Click “copy”. Then go to your page, start a new post on your page, then put your finger anywhere in the blank field. “Paste” will pop up and click on it to paste. Thank you all!

Variations of this hoax have been circulating since at least February 2018, and Facebook comprehensively debunked it at the time. But that didn’t halt its spread. On February 6, 2019, the social network even published a blog post about the copy-and-paste meme, hinting at its continued circulation a year later.

“The idea that News Feed only shows you posts from a set number of friends is a myth,” product manager Ramya Sethuraman wrote in the blog entry. “The goal of News Feed is to show you the posts that matter to you so that you have an enjoyable experience. If we somehow blocked you from seeing content from everyone but a small set of your friends, odds are you wouldn’t return.”

The problem is that by the time a fooled user realises it’s total hookum, it’s too late – they have already copy-pasted it, sharing it with their friends, allowing it to keep going viral across the social network.

That said, there is an extremely convoluted and twisted kernel of truth in here – Facebook’s algorithm does make judgments about which of your friends it thinks you want to see content from, and then prioritises them in your News Feed. And engaging with these friends’ posts (and them engaging with your posts) will make them appear more frequently.

But the “facts” this hoax claims, and its purported fix? Dead wrong.

If you feel you are seeing only a limited number of posts from a limited number of people, there is a tried-and-true trick that will give you a different view of your News Feed: have it show you the “Most Recent” posts rather than its default, “Top Stories.” To do this on the desktop click on “News Feed” in the left-hand column and then on “Most Recent.”

This view of the News Feed is harder to find on the mobile app. First click on the “three lines” symbol (next to the notifications bell symbol). Then click on “See More” then on “Most Recent.”

This story was originally published on August 8, 2018, and has been updated to include Facebook’s blog post from February 6, 2019.

Do you work at Facebook? Got a tip? Contact this reporter via Signal or WhatsApp at +1 (650) 636-6268 using a non-work phone, email at [email protected], WeChat at robaeprice, or Twitter DM at@robaeprice . You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

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