It's irritating, and there doesn't seem to be a way to turn off. This pane pops up sometimes (but not all the time) when you "like" a post that contains an outside link.
Recently I discovered that it also pops up when you simply right click on a link to open it in a post in a new tab.
Now, these links are fairly benign. (Although one wonders why clicking on an article in an online conservative Catholic magazine, which is what got me this pane, triggers a link for a talk on why the Catholic church is bad. The algorithm Facebook uses is apparently not that smart.) But the other day, a similar pop-into-my-stream pane of related links got me a thumbnail of a gory picture I most definitely did not want to see.
This isn't, by itself, a huge thing, this pop up pane of related links, but added to my list of growing irritations*, it's enough to move me to all but deactivate my account. Since I can't actually deactivate, having some family and friends who simply don't update or post elsewhere, I've massively changed how I use Facebook. Here are some of the things I did.
-I changed my bookmark for Facebook from my Home stream to my profile page. This way, I don't see the main stream when I go to Facebook to check my notifications, unless I decide to go take a look. I don't "skim down" my stream anymore.
-I have un-followed all but one or two of my near-spam-level serial outside-link posters. This means I won't get any actual posts from these people, either, which sucks, but right now, I need to declutter for mental sanity. I would love it if Facebook gave people the option of following someone's link-free status updates only or following both links posted and status updates. But Facebook doesn't have that distinction. On Google Plus, I can put serial link posting abusers in a separate circle, turn down the frequency of that circle's posting in my main stream, and I'll still see SOME posts from those people, but just not every. single. one. No such control on Facebook. On Facebook, The Stream tells YOU what you want to see.
-I have used Facebook's pre-set "Close Friends" category, the one that puts a gold star (really, Facebook? What is this, Third Grade?) by peoples' names, to make sure I don't miss posts from my closest friends and family.
-Facebook has a setting that allows you to set various notifications to "within Facebook AND email" or just "within Facebook." There is also an option to set your "Close Friends" to "within Facebook AND Email" seperately from other notifications. I have set this TWICE now, and it's still not emailing me when a Close Friend posts, like it's supposed to.**
-I don't "like" posts with links. Period.
I've had things set this way for a week now, and it's working for me. Oddly enough, I've noticed that plenty of other people aren't posting as much lately either. I really do think Facebook is in clear decline, almost entirely of their own making. If you want to keep data-mining people, Facebook, you've got to keep people happy and feeling like they enjoy using the vehicle by which you data-mine them. Jerk them around enough, and they will eventually leave.
*The largest of which is the loss of the ability to set your individual Facebook friends frequency of occurence in your stream. You used to be able to set Crazy Uncle Bob who's always posting Art Bell links to a "only important" sort of setting, and you'd only see a few of his posts, and you could set your best friend Sandy, who's due with her baby any day now, to "All posts" so you'd see a post for every contraction she has. But that control has gone MIA.
**This is yet another frustration with Facebook. The user interface (UI) for all the background and account settings is constantly changing, usually for no apparent reason, making it really hard to have any transparency about just what your settings are. And whether they will stay that way when you do finally find where to set or change something.