Once its users tell them how to rank news sources

Andrew Cummings
January 20, 2018

As of Friday news makes up about 5 percent of content in News Feed (after last week's announced changes), and the company expects that to drop to 4 percent, Zuckerberg revealed in his Facebook post.

The change to the Facebook news feed comes as the online giant seeks to address charges that it has failed - along with Google and Twitter - to prevent the spread of bogus news, most strikingly ahead of the 2016 USA election.

"There's too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today", Zuckerberg said.

But that was before Facebook faced the wrath of users and U.S. lawmakers for spreading fake news and potentially manipulating the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook is announcing a second major tweak to its algorithm, saying it will prioritize news based on survey results of trustworthiness.

What's more, this announcement to tweak the News Feed to put people first could be nothing more than a stunt. Ahead of the USA presidential election in 2016, Facebook was criticized for bias because its human curators of a "Trending Topics" section were only allowed to pick links from a set of sources Facebook designated as trusted, which excluded some conservative sites.

This News Feed change is not the same as a recent test Facebook did where it moved all Page content to the Explore tab. "We considered asking outside experts, which would take the decision out of our hands but would likely not solve the objectivity problem", wrote Zuckerberg. "Broadly trusted" news outlets that are affirmed by a cross-section of users may see a huge boost in readership, while those that receive poor ratings could see their web traffic decline significantly. "Or we could ask you - the community - and have your feedback determine the ranking". "Publications that do not score highly as trusted by the community may see a decrease".

"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", Zuckerberg added.

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