Meta to Enhance User Experience for Facebook and Instagram in Compliance with European Digital Services Act
In response to the European Commission’s new rules, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is making changes to improve transparency and give users more control over their content. Among these changes is the implementation of Stories and Reels in chronological order, as well as unranked search results and enhanced user customization options.
Meta has assembled a team of over 1,000 experts to develop solutions that align with the requirements of the European Digital Services Act (DSA). These solutions aim to provide users with a clearer understanding of how the platforms’ algorithms work and give them the ability to tailor their experiences on Facebook and Instagram.
Starting this month, users will have the option to view Stories and Reels from people they follow in chronological order, rather than relying on an algorithm-based ranking system. Additionally, search results will no longer be personalized based on users’ previous activity and interests but will instead be based solely on the words they enter.
The Return of Chronological Order
For many users, the chronological order of posts and content was once the default and preferred way to navigate their social media feeds. It allowed for a real-time view of updates from friends, family, and favorite creators, creating a sense of immediacy and engagement. Over the years, both Facebook and Instagram shifted towards algorithm-driven timelines, prioritizing what the platforms believed users would find most relevant.
However, this shift wasn’t universally well-received. Users often found themselves missing out on content they were interested in or seeing outdated posts that had lost their relevance. Additionally, concerns about the potential for these algorithms to influence user behavior and promote specific content led to calls for increased transparency and user control.
Compliance with EU Law
The decision to reintroduce chronological ordering for Stories and Reels aligns with EU regulations that emphasize user consent and control over online platforms. These regulations aim to strike a balance between providing personalized content and respecting user preferences.
By offering a chronological option, Facebook and Instagram give users the ability to choose how they want to experience content. This compliance with EU law showcases the platforms’ commitment to adhering to regional regulations while also acknowledging the importance of user choice.
User Control and Transparency
To promote transparency, Meta is introducing system cards that explain how its AI systems rank content on Facebook and Instagram. These cards provide insights into the predictions made by the algorithms and offer customization options for users to personalize their feeds.
Enhancing User Experience
The return of chronological Stories and Reels represents a significant enhancement of user experience. It allows users to stay up-to-date with real-time content from friends, family, and creators they follow. This feature is especially valuable for time-sensitive content, such as event updates, live broadcasts, or trending topics.
Furthermore, creators and businesses can benefit from the chronological option, as their content can reach audiences precisely when it matters most, without relying solely on algorithmic distribution.
Meta is also expanding its Ad library to display and archive all ads targeting EU users, providing transparency on the parameters used for targeting and who received the ads. Furthermore, the company is launching two new tools for researchers to access publicly available content from Pages, Posts, Groups, and Events.
While Meta expresses support for the principles of the DSA, it remains to be seen how these changes will be implemented. Observers will be closely watching to ensure that Meta complies with the letter, if not the spirit, of the new law.