Facebook Rolls Out Plan To Decide What News Is Credible

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Facebook may be changing how it determines what news stories are “misleading” and “sensational” by modifying the way its News Feed works.

“Today we’re announcing two updates to better rank posts in your feed,” Facebook wrote on an official blog post.

The two updates include “incorporating new signals to better identify and rank authentic content” and “a new way to predict and rank in real-time when posts might be more relevant to you.”

The social media company will essentially add more markers to each post by analyzing factors like the source of the page. The algorithm Facebook uses to triage content on users’ News Feeds will account for these labels and subsequently adjust.

“One of our News Feed values is authentic communication,” the Facebook post continues. “We’ve heard from our community that authentic stories are the ones that resonate most — those that people consider genuine and not misleading, sensational or spammy.”

Automatically identifying a post as legitimate or fraudulent may be a difficult task for Facebook, since subjectivity seems to be liable to even the most seemingly scientific processes.

“For example, if Page posts are often being hidden by people reading them, that’s a signal that it might not be authentic,” reads the Facebook post, which is authored by two research scientists and an engineering manager.

But according to two separate polls conducted by nonprofit research organizations, Democrats are way more likely than Republicans to block or unfriend people on social media over political disagreements. And if those same people are willing to block or unfriend people they disagree with, then they will likely do the same for news stories they disagree with, regardless of the authenticity of the content.

Facebook has other factors that go into the placement and ranking of News Feed content that have less to do with credibility, and more to do with interests and engagement “such as whether a friend has just commented on it” or “if your favorite soccer team just won a game.”

The social media company concludes that it does not anticipate pages seeing “any significant changes to their distribution in News Feed” and that everyone should resume business as usual.

Facebook has been actively trying to weed out misleading news from its platform, and promote more genuine content. The tech conglomerate hired former CNN anchor and President Donald Trump critic Campbell Brown earlier in the month to lead its news partnerships team.

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