Facebook officially rolls out its discovery-focused ‘Explore Feed’

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Facebook’s tests of an alternative News Feed dubbed the “Explore” feed have progressed to a full rollout, the company now confirms. Previously available on mobile devices in the main navigation, Facebook’s new Explore Feed is now appearing for users on the desktop, as well. Facebook tells TechCrunch this is the beginning of the official rollout of the Explore feed.

On the desktop, the feed is found in the left-side sidebar, within the “Explore” section – where you’ll also find links to Facebook features like Events, Groups, Pages, Moments, Saved items, and more.

The expansion to desktop was first spotted via Matt Navarra, who shared a screenshot of the Explore Feed on Twitter.

On mobile, the Explore feed is in the main navigation under the “More” menu.

The idea behind the Explore Feed is to help Facebook users discover more content across the social network, beyond posts from friends and Pages you already follow. Instead, this feed surfaces recommended content it thinks you might find interesting, including posts, articles, photos and videos from sources you haven’t followed yet – like Facebook Pages and other posts from publishers or news organizations.

The selection isn’t just random content, though. Items in the Explore Feed are similar to those you’ve already liked, or those popular among your network of friends, for example.

The overall goal, of course, is to increase users’ time-on-site (or time-in-app, if on mobile). This allows Facebook to serve more ads in between the content, in videos and elsewhere. Effectively, it’s a second-tier News Feed that Facebook could monetize.

At this time, however, the feed doesn’t appear to include advertising. (At least no ads appeared in tests after scrolling down for a good minute or so).

The Explore Feed itself has been in testing for some time. Earlier this year, the feed was designated by a rocket ship icon, which may have confused users who didn’t understand its purpose. But other tests had labeled the feed “Explore,” which made more sense. That name has since stuck, as that’s how the feed is now labeled on desktop as well.

When asked in the past about the feed’s expansion, Facebook had continued to say that the Explore Feed is just a test.

That changed today. Reached for comment, a Facebook rep confirmed the Explore Feed is now being rolled out.

“We are beginning to roll out a complementary feed of popular articles, videos, and photos, automatically customized for each person based on content that might be interesting to them,” the Facebook spokesperson said. “We’ve heard from people that they want an easy way to explore relevant content from Pages they haven’t connected with yet.”

Post updated, 10/18/17, 2:30 pm et, with Facebook’s confirmation.