Facebook Wants Its Community To Rank The Trustworthiness Of News Content



The platform will soon start implementing media trust pulse-checks within its ongoing user surveys.


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Facebook has recently made headlines with announcements detailing major adjustments to both the News Feed and Messenger app, with the overarching aspiration that time spent on the platform is worthwhile and in support of a strong and meaningful community.

Now, the platform’s Head of News Feed, Adam Mosseri, is sharing yet another update: Users will now be in the driver seat when it comes to determining which news outlets are deemed “trustworthy” in the News Feed.

The announcement has stirred up some debate, as people tend to perceive trustworthiness in very different ways—especially during such politically tense times. For example, a recent study in the U.S. found that people are more likely to deem negative stories about their side of an issue as “fake news,” even if the content has come from a reputable source.

Still, Facebook has been steadfast in its aim to decrease the “sensationalism, misinformation and polarization” that exists in the world today. Per a statement from Mark Zuckerberg, if his company doesn’t do anything to stop this, they are simply part of the problem.

Regarding how the community will help suss out the real from the fake, Facebook will begin integrating media trustworthiness pulse-checks into their ongoing quality surveys. Specifically, users will be asked whether they’re familiar with a particular news source, and if they are, if they trust the source or not.

By eliminating from the data those who respond that they are not familiar with a source, the result is an output comprised of a ratio of those who trust the source to those who are familiar with it.

Asking whether or not a user is familiar with the source will also be helpful in reducing the bias of people who are likely to champion one source or political persuasion over another. Moreover, while not explicitly stated in the announcement, it’s important to keep in mind that Facebook has plenty of data at its disposal to determine a user’s political leaning, including people who self-identify as such.

So, what will the implications of these surveys be on the user? According to Facebook, the update will not materially change the volume of news a user encounters on Facebook. It will, however, “shift the balance of news … towards sources that are determined to be trusted by the community.”

As far as media outlets and publishers are concerned, Facebook says the effects will come as no surprise: those deemed trustworthy by survey respondents will experience an uptick in their distribution. Conversely, those that aren’t ranked as trusted may see a drop.

According to Mosseri, this will be the first of several changes that will go into the company’s efforts to re-prioritize the News Feed ranking system, ensuring that the content ultimately provided to users is “high quality.” While initial efforts will be targeted to address trustworthiness, additional changes down the road will prioritize news that’s “informative” and “local.”

Tests of this change will begin late January in the U.S. with an eventual international roll-out to follow at a later date.

For more insights into the big changes going on over at Facebook, as well as the platform’s role in marketing and society, join us at SMWNYC April 24-27, 2018. Claim your pass today.

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