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Facebook wants to know why users hide News Feed items

Feedback is expected to increase engagement while serving up more relevant ads and limiting exposure of offensive content.

'Likes' are nice, but Facebook wants to know why users dislike ads or status updates. CNET

Facebook already has a pipeline on users' "Likes," but what it really wants is a little feedback on why they dislike items in their News Feed enough to hide them.

Identifying content that will keep its users engaged longer is one of Facebook's great challenges. In an effort to better understand what users find relevant or uninteresting, the social-networking giant will soon allow users to explain their reasons for hiding an advertisement, photo, or friend status update, ABC News reports.

"Over the next few months what you will see from us is more on why people like and don't like certain things in their feed," Facebook product manager for ads Fidji Simo told ABC News. "We are planning to refine those so users can tell us exactly the reasons they are hiding that piece of content."

Simo did not describe what form the new tool would take but said the company would be testing menu options that users could expect to use in the next three to four months to easily explain why they felt something was uninteresting or offensive right from their feed. Facebook could use the feedback to limit the exposure of content deemed offensive and to better pair ads that run with content.

The new tool might resemble an existing tool for hiding ads that appear in the right rail that asks users their reason for the action, including whether they found it uninteresting, misleading, sexually explicit, offensive, or repetitive.

Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET

The new feedback feature could help increase the relevance of re-targeted ads served through the Facebook Exchange ad platform. These ads, which are derived from users' browsing behavior outside Facebook, are further amplified by their larger presentation in the redesigned News Feed that Facebook introduced earlier this year.