This Facebook “All” Link Let You See An Almost Unfiltered News Feed, Until Facebook Shut It Down

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Facebook filters the news feed so you only see the 15% or so of stories it thinks you’ll find most interesting. But a newly discovered “All” link would show you almost everything posted by your friends and Pages you Like, Twitter style. Update: That is, until Facebook shut it down around 5:30pm today.

Facebook confirmed to me this morning that http://www.facebook.com/?sk=nf_all “is an old link that allows you to access your news feed operating on an earlier version of our ranking algorithm.”

First spotted by Tom Waddington, the All feed could have made sure Facebook addicts never miss a photo or funny status update, and get marketers more eye balls. However, Facebook stressed that “This feed does not show all posts”, and since it was an “old link”, there was a good chance it could get shut down soon. And now it has been. If you visit the link, you’ll just see the normal, filtered version of your news feed.

Years ago, Facebook offered a near-firehose real-time stream you could toggle to from the home page called “Most Recent”. Based on Facebook’s statement, that might be what this link used to bring up. But since it didn’t deliver as compelling stories to the average user, Facebook ditched it in favor of a heavily filtered feed. That’s great for making sure you see the most Liked updates by friends since you last logged on. However, it can show the same updates over and over again to people who visit Facebook all the time.

Facebook tried to appease power users by returning the “Most Recent” toggle switch, but it actually still filters out a lot. So if you couldn’t get enough of what your friends and favorite brands were doing, you could check out ” https://www.facebook.com/?sk=nf_all “.  But since this seems to have been something Facebook used internally and that wasn’t meant for public consumption, it shut it down.

Here’s how it worked. Though it didn’t automatically refresh with updates, it would show you a reverse chronological stream of almost every news feed post by friends and Pages starting with a few seconds ago. Judging by my initial scans of the All feed, you’d also see plenty of wall posts, new friendships, Page Likes by friends, Event RSVPs, “Trending Articles” boxes, and more.

You’dsee some stories from apps, such as a friend Liking photos on Instagram, or two friends listening to the same artist on Spotify. However, the All feed wouldn’t show you every song every friend listened to, and you won’t see every time a friend Liked or commented on someone’s status. Otherwise it’d be so cluttered that real posts to the feed would get drowned out.

There’s been a ton of controversy about Facebook Pages not being able to reach their fans with every update they post. Brands might not dig it, but that filtering makes the feed better. If people want to see more of the posts by Pages they Like, they can still try the separate Pages feed which shows the best ones but not every single update. That option could excite marketers who get big traffic and awareness boosts when people see their news feed posts.

Most important, though, was the potential for the All feed to draw even more time-on-site/app from hardcore Facebook users. It meant you didn’t have to worry about browsing a feed of reruns. Some people might have used it as a dashboard to keep up with everything going on in the lives of friends, while others could have used it as a real-time news source that could even compete with Twitter.

Why wouldn’t Facebook just make this easily accessible? Because each story in the unfiltered feed was less likely to seem interesting to the average person. It could also have confused Facebook novices. I think hiding it in the drop-down news feed sorting button on the web and the gear icon on mobile would have been a nice hat tip to Facebook’s hungriest users, but alas, it is no more.

The All feed may have been quite taxing on Facebook’s servers, and not what Facebook wanted people to see, so like a broken fire hydrant sprinkling water in the street, it wasn’t long after the fun started that it got shut off.

Have you heard this myth? We busted it. Killing Rumors With Facts: No, Facebook Didn’t Decrease Page Feed Reach To Sell More Promoted Posts