Earlier this year, Facebook was spotted testing a new type of News Feed one that designed to help you discover content across the social network, beyond posts from friends and Pages you already follow. During tests, the feed was available through the Facebook app underneath a rocket ship icon something that seemed to confuse users, who didnt understand the feeds purpose.
Now this alternative feed is showing up for users under Facebooks More menu, where its simply named Explore Feed. (One earlier test on iOS had labeled the feed Explore back in the beginning of the year, and apparently that name has stuck.)
The More menu is where Facebook today steadily rolls out its new features as the social network expands to be more of an online portal, connecting you to resources within its own walls so that you wont turn to Google, the web, or other mobile apps.
For example, this menu is now home to things like Weather, Jobs, Games, Sports, Fundraisers, a Find Wi-Fi utility, and more. Its also where Facebook launched its government-focused Town Hall feature, as well as its new Uber Eats and Seamless competitor, Order Food (which Papa Johns just joined this week, we should note.)
The Explore Feeds presence in this section hints at Facebooks plans for a broader rollout, rather than a small experiment.
But Facebook says its still considered a test, despite this prominent placement in Facebooks main navigation.
We are testing a complementary feed of popular articles, videos, and photos, customized for each person based on content that might be interesting to them, a spokesperson told TechCrunch. Weve heard from people that they want an easy way to explore new content they havent connected with yet.
With Explore Feed, the goal is to connect users to Facebooks broader network of news and information. The feed itself consists of posts, articles, photos and videos from sources you havent yet followed like Facebook Pages or posts from news organizations.
However, its not just a random selection.
The Explore Feed consists of content from Facebook Pages that are similar to those youve already liked, as well as those popular with friends like a video that a number of people in your network are watching, for instance.
Facebook has for some time been working on a way to better leverage its deep understanding of a users likes and interests in different ways, largely to help increase users time on site, and therefore, Facebooks bottom line.
Even as far back as 2010, the network was experimenting with ways to help members curate their interests in order to find Pages they would like. In 2014, it tried a standalone app called Rooms that aimed to help people connect over shared interests, even if they werent friends. (The app was later shut down).
But Facebook users still gravitate towards their News Feed for discovery purposes.
With Explore Feeds shift to the More menu, theres also now an introduction to the feed for first-time users, which should help clear up some of the earlier confusion.
After tapping on the menu option, youre directed to a separate page where a big illustration with a rocket that explains, Welcome to Explore Feed, along with the subheading: Top posts for you, from across Facebook.
In my own tests, I found Explore Feed to be a fairly reliable source of new content to check out, though it doesnt consist entirely of posts Id consider informative. (But do I hate that the first thing I saw was a puppy video? Nope, not really.) Beyond that, Facebook surfaced content that matched up with my political views, as well as my interests in tech, parenting, media and entertainment.
The Explore Feed is appearing on Facebooks mobile app, but is not yet showing on desktop as far as we can tell. Not everyone will have the feed in their app at this time, but you should definitely check.