Facebook, to start surveying users to determine trustworthy sources of news

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg two days ago announced the second part of the company’s plan to fix the News Feed, and it includes improving the quality and trustworthiness of the sources of news by surveying the community of the social network.

The system will work through the existing quality surveys of Facebook, with users now being asked if they’re familiar with the source and if they trust it or not. According to Zuckerberg, Facebook deliberated on making the decision on news sources itself or consulting outside experts, but eventually felt that going to the community would be the most “objective” method of defining news sources that are most broadly trusted.

The reasoning behind these changes is to start to address Facebook’s major problems with facilitating the spread of misinformation across the internet, according to Zuckerberg:

“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 part of its plan which includes:

  1. Working to shift its algorithms towards “meaningful posts.”
  2. Cutting down on public content from brands in favor of your actual Facebook friends.

However, many saw this as a reckoning for Facebook-dependent media outlets, Zuckerberg clarified in his post that the changes should result in brand news, images, and video making up roughly four percent of users’ news feeds, rather than the approximately five percent of the feed that content now fills.

As Zuckerberg explains, though the changes announced shouldn’t affect the total breakdown of content beyond that four percent change, but rather tilt the kind of content sources serve towards the community, and therefore the algorithm, determined to be more trustworthy. Zuckerberg concluded with a restatement 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.”

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