Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the second part of the company’s plan to fix the News Feed, and it includes improving the quality and trustworthiness of news sources by surveying the social network’s community.
The system will work through Facebook’s existing quality surveys, with users now getting asked about whether or not they’re familiar with the source and if they trust it. According to Zuckerberg, Facebook considered making the decision on news sources itself or consulting outside experts but ultimately felt that going to the community would be the most “objective” method of determining which news sources are most broadly trusted.
Per Zuckerberg, the reasoning behind the changes is to start to address Facebook’s major problems with facilitating the spread of misinformation across the internet:
There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation, and polarization in the world today. Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don’t specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them. That’s why it’s important that News Feed promotes high quality news that helps build a sense of common ground.
Last week, Facebook announced the first part of its plan, by working to shift its algorithms towards “meaningful posts” by cutting down on public content from brands in favour of your actual Facebook friends. While many saw this as a reckoning for Facebook-dependent media outlets, Zuckerberg clarified in his post today that the changes should result in the brand news, images, and video making up roughly four percent of users’ news feeds, instead of the approximately roughly five percent of the feed that content currently fills today.
As Zuckerberg explains, though, the changes announced today shouldn’t affect the overall breakdown of content beyond that four percent change, but rather tilt the kind of content you’re served towards sources the community, and therefore the algorithm, determine to be more trustworthy. Zuckerberg concluded with a reiteration of his hopes that Facebook can have a more positive impact on the world:
This update will not change the amount of news you see on Facebook. It will only shift the balance of news you see towards sources that are determined to be trusted by the community.
My hope is that this update about trusted news and last week’s update about meaningful interactions will help make time on Facebook time well spent: where we’re strengthening our relationships, engaging in active conversations rather than passive consumption, and, when we read news, making sure it’s from high quality and trusted sources.