Everyone has one — the cousin who shows up at the top of your News Feed because she uses Facebook as an exclamation point-saturated diary or a friend whose postings top it simply because her entire family “liking” everything suggests to Facebook’s algorithm that everyone else she knows will inevitably “like”’ it, too.
Exactly how Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes content is a secret kept under lock-and-key, but one thing is certain: despite Facebook’s best efforts to please us, we don’t always actually “like” what we see.
Starting today, Facebook offers a solution to your annoying cousin.
Rather than unfollowing your cousin’s posts altogether, you can instead signal to Facebook who you would actually like to see at the top of your feed. In News Feed Preferences, select which friends you’d like to always see posts from. Facebook will mark those friends with a blue star, bumping their posts up to the top of your feed. So more photos of your best friend’s vacation adventures, less of your cousin’s continuum of overshare.
The company also announced updates that will make it easier to unfollow someone, as well as easier to find groups or pages you might like to follow in the future.
Facebook is rolling out the features for iOS devices today, with desktop and Android to come over the next few weeks.
Here’s a video explaining how to set up the new features:
The social network does not share who you’ve starred, so worry not if you’ve, you know, starred all of your ex-boyfriends. Users can also star and un-star at will.
Taken together, for Facebook users, all this signals an unprecedented level of control over the information Facebook feeds us.
It’s also a humble admission from Facebook that at the end of the day, an algorithm still doesn’t know us better than we know ourselves.
“We use ranking to order stories based on how interesting we believe they are to you,” Facebook wrote in a blog post announcing the news. “We know that ultimately you’re the only one who truly knows what is most meaningful to you and that is why we want to give you more ways to control what you see.”