Facebook today is launching a new feature designed to give users more control over what content they see in their News Feed: a “Snooze” button. The option, which will become available via the top-right dropdown menu on a post, will mute content from a person, Page or group for 30 days.
The new feature can serve as a way to dial down the content you don’t want to see, without having to fully unfollow or unfriend someone.
For example, if you’ve had enough of someone’s political rants or baby photos, you can temporarily opt to see less of them in your News Feed. You could also turn off a particularly chatty Facebook friend whose continuous updates clutter your feed.
The option could be useful for people going through a breakup, too – that is, one where they’re staying connected socially, but don’t necessary want constant reminders of what an ex is up to. That’s an area Facebook has explored in the past, with the 2015 debut of tools to help you see less from former flames. However, not many people seem to know these features exist. Snooze, on the other hand, will be far more visible.
For Pages and Groups, having a Snooze button means they may be able to better retain their less active users, who may have otherwise unliked them or left the group to avoid their content.
TechCrunch first spotted Snooze in testing this fall, when different lengths of time were being offered. Today’s launch has settled on a month as the right amount of time spent on mute.
The update, while seemingly minor, comes at a time when many people – including some of Facebook’s early founders – are questioning whether social media is having a negative impact on people and society as a whole. A network that’s too tuned to what people want to see, and provides that to them by way of algorithms, can lead to addiction and an inability to relate to different people and opinions.
The flip side of Facebook’s toolset for deep personalization, including now Snooze, are these ongoing concerns that Facebook’s social network can become overly comfortable for people. It allows people to ensconce themselves in a world where everyone thinks like them, enjoys the same things, and posts similar news and other things. But this is not the real world, where people’s opinions can wildly differ. The result of this bubble effect is a reduction in being exposed to new ideas, and an increased intolerance for those who don’t share your same beliefs.
Snooze, in that context, could be seen not as an empowering tool, but one that could potentially lead people to further distancing themselves from friends with different perspectives – whether political, religious, cultural or otherwise – simply because it’s something you don’t want to see.
But at least Snooze’s forced cooldown period could stop people from unfriending people with these opposing viewpoints.
Facebook notes that when the Snooze period is about to end, it will notify you of this – presumably, in case you need to snooze them again. You can also reverse a snooze at any time, the company notes.
The Snooze button is rolling out today, across Facebook.