Once upon a time, people had to scan the headlines of the daily newspaper to stay up
to date on important local and worldwide news content. However, news isn’t just for
newspapers anymore. Times have changed since the days when the black-and-white
pages of newspapers reigned, and more than 65% of Americans now turn to social
media platforms for the majority of the news content they consume.
Many different popular social media platforms offer news content, and Facebook is the
number-one source of news among these social platforms. Americans’ reliance on
Facebook for news content has only increased since the COVID-19 pandemic and its
economic impact has forced many local news outlets to shutter for good.
Facebook is currently home to more than 2.5 billion active users every single month.
Despite many Facebook users’ reliance on this social media platform as a major source
of news content, the social media giant has been criticized as of late for the large
amount of misinformation and false news content that appears on their site and their
continuous failure to discredit it.
Higher-ups at Facebook—including founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg—have
continuously denied that their platform is a major source of misinformation on the Web.
Zuckerberg has even claimed that 99% of Facebook posts are “authentic”, despite
massive evidence to the contrary. Facebook has specifically been criticized by the
general public for refusing to ban false political ads and thereby knowingly spreading
harmful misinformation to their billions of users.
However, Facebook’s updated News Feed algorithm seems to finally be addressing
some of these major issues. In fact, the updated algorithm seems to be targeted
specifically toward reducing the prevalence of inaccurate news content on Facebook.
This updated News Feed algorithm is already in effect, as of Facebook’s official
announcement on June 30, 2020. So how exactly will this updated algorithm change the
way Facebook users consume news content one social media platform?
In the official announcement they made regarding their updated News Feed algorithm,
Facebook stated that one of their top goals with the release of this updated algorithm is
to increase the originality of the news content they feature on users’ News Feeds.
This means that Facebook’s updated algorithm will prioritize news articles that are most
frequently cited as the original source of a specific news story. Original sources tend to
be the most credible, and news stories are more likely to become twisted and falsified
the more they are re-written and spun by additional news outlets.
With Facebook’s updated algorithm, they plan to place a higher emphasis on identifying
and boosting original news stories from outlets that are the first to break a specific story.
The idea is that these stories are more likely to be credible and will be able to reach a
wider base of users due to Facebook’s updated algorithm.
For the time being, the identification and heightened reach of original news sources will
be limited to English-language news content. However, Facebook plans to expand their
updated algorithm to apply to news stories in other languages as well in the near future.
Another important factor of Facebook’s updated News Feed algorithm is its focus on
heightened transparency—specifically in terms of authorship of news content.
Facebook’s updated algorithm boosts news stories with clearly listed authors and
editorial staff members and reduces the reach of content with unclear authorship.
The idea behind this heightening of transparent authorship is that news stories with listed
authors are more likely to be credible than content of unclear origins. Clickbait articles,
which tend to be partially or wholly false, tend to avoid listing authors and editorial staff
As such, Facebook’s updated algorithm identifies and boosts news stories that clearly
list the first and last names of their author(s) and the editorial staff members of the
publication from which these stories originated.
Facebook’s updated algorithm makes great strides toward boosting more credible news
stories with clear origins and demoting news content that is less likely to be credible and
more likely to be falsified. Overall, this social media giant’s updated News Feed
algorithm is a step in the right direction for Facebook.
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