Facebook’s News Feed is the company’s crown jewel, and it’s very particular about how people interact with it. The social network has a squad of engineers, data scientists, social researchers and everyday users working to improve the algorithm that shows each of Facebook's 1.4 billion users a personalized stream of content, ideally ranked from most to least interesting for every person.
A common gripe about the News Feed, though, is that there’s no way to consistently view it in chronological order. Users can select a “Most Recent” tab to show posts as they appear, but the setting stubbornly switches back to Facebook’s algorithmically-driven feed after a certain amount of time.
In an interview with TIME, Facebook's News Feed Product Management Director Adam Mosseri offered the following explanation for why users can’t have a permanent chronological view of their feeds:
We think of ‘Most Recent’ as not a sort on News Feed but just like a separate space, like any other separate space. Like you can’t make that your default, you can’t make your profile the default. In general, chronological, I think, helps people who are worried about missing things or seeing more recent things, but if everyone was on chronological all the time, people would miss a lot more important content. Our whole mission is to show people content that we think that they find meaningful. Recency is one important input into what people find meaningful, but we have found over and over again that it’s not the only one.
To some degree, Facebook has given people greater ability to control what appears in their News Feed — and what doesn’t. A new feature rolling out Thursday, for instance, lets users select up to 30 friends or Pages to ensure they get those friends' latest posts at the top of their feed.
For now, though, the company seems confident that a curated feed yields more user engagement than one shown in order. If you don't like that, you'll have to keep reaching for that "Most Recent" button.