The new Facebook feeds and which to use

Facebook is a funny old creature and it does like to throw changes at its users faster than most. Well, good on Zuckerberg Inc for doing its best to keep up with the times - it's just a shame that for many it can cause a little confusion as to where to find all the bits and pieces that we've only just got used to. So, with today's little switch-aroo on the world's favourite social network, here's the Pocket-lint guide to News Feed and Live Feed, which to use and just where everything else has gone anyway.

News Feed

When you log in to Facebook and navigate to the home page, you'll find the real-time feed - the central column - looking a little different. It now comes in two different formats according to which words are highlighted at the top of the feed. The default setting will be News Feed and what company has done here is to bring back a couple of features that were lost last time around and make this into more of an overview of the activity in your social network

Instead of offering a chronological view of what's been going on, it presents users with what it thinks are the most interesting updates at the top of the list moving down to the least important ones at the bottom - if you really want to go back through that many years worth of notifications that is. That idea is that it offers a better overview of what's been going on and it works it all out with an algorithm which factors in how recent the update has been made, how many friends have liked it, how many have commented on it and how likely you are personally to interact with the news at all.

What's it best for?
Don't use the news feed option if you're the kind of person who sits on Facebook 24 hours a day. This isn't a blow-by-blow account of what's going on. The News Feed works best as a quick catch up tool. If you've either been away from the internet for a few days - heaven forbid - or perhaps for your first check of the day, or if you're not someone who uses Facebook on a daily basis, then this is the one for you. It's an excellent way of catching up on the important stuff quickly.

The downside is that the algorithm used to work out what should be at the top of the list is only as good as you are. If you never comment on other people's updates, then the system won't have a very good idea of what and who you like most, so the updates will pretty much come in the order of the time they came anyway. Otherwise, it works well.

Live Feed

Your other option is the Live Feed which is much more like the real-time stream used to be. Without ever having to manually refresh the page, the Live Feed offers all the updates of everyone in your network - no matter how large or small - with the latest appearing at the top of the list as it happens.

If you hit the options next to the updates on either feed, you can customise your streams to edit out and block anyone who you don't want to listen to. They won't be notified of the fact and you can always reinstate them in the Edit Options section any time you like.

What's it best for?
The Live Feed is the much more Twitter-like approach from Facebook. All the really big notifications will get lost of the pages just as quickly as the small stuff, so this is the option that's more for people who monitor their stream on a regular basis. If you just dip in and out once a day, then stick to the News Feed, but if you want a real-time chat-type minute-by-minute interaction, then the Live Feed is the one to use.

Are there any other changes?

Apart from these major shifts, the birthday notifications box is more in-depth than before and in a better place - not lost quite so far down the screen. Then other change is that the highlights box has been axed with the idea that its function is mostly served by the News Feed option. Coincidentally, it also frees up a nice bit of real estate above the fold in the top right corner where the company can render the sponsored ads.