Facebook to Let Users Rank Credibility of News

Pauline Gross
January 23, 2018

After tweaking its News Feed to allow users to see more updates from family and friends than posts from businesses, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has now announced to prioritise news that is trustworthy, informative and local.

As per the new changes, Mr Zuckerberg added, sources that are widely respected will now get better play in users' news feeds, while those that aren't will get less. Relatively new businesses - those without decades or more of track records - could find it tougher to build their audiences.

The changes come a week after Facebook announced it will show users posts from friends and family and fewer from brands and companies to increase "meaningful interactions" on the site.

Cleaning up the news feed will surely send more news to people via Instant Articles, and this must be to the financial benefit of Facebook.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement that Facebook's goal is to connect people and have them share stories and memories amongst their Facebook friends. This change will only apply to US users, although - if successful - Facebook plans to enforce the effort internationally.

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"There's too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today", Zuckerberg said in a post. We could try to make that decision ourselves, but that's not something we're comfortable with.

For many, News Feed is exactly that, an easy and digestible way to see the day's news and read the journalism that you trust, without having to search around the rest of the internet.

The quality of news on Facebook has been called into question after alleged Russian operatives, for-profit spammers and others spread false reports on the site, including during the 2016 United States election campaign. Facebook has also recently announced to run a survey in its News Feed, where it will ask some questions about whether you think a certain publication is trustworthy or not. We considered asking outside experts, which would take the decision out of our hands but would likely not solve the objectivity problem.

Facebook said news would be prioritized according to the new ranking system starting Monday, before expanding globally.

In a January 13 interview with Wired, Adam Mosseri, the Facebook vice president who runs the News Feed feature, stated that the company would be giving lower priority to published videos because watching them is a "passive" activity. Facebook has become so entrenched in our society as the go-to forum for the exchange of news, updates, and ideas that we sometimes forget how much power the company holds in determining the content we consume.

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