Facebook announces changes to News Feed, says it will prioritize original reporting

Facebook today announced a few changes that it is making to how it boosts news articles in the News Feed. The company says that the changes are based on user feedback suggesting that called for credible and informative stories. The company is today talking about two main areas – ‘original news content’ and ‘trusted authorship’.

Firstly, the social media giant says that it will begin prioritizing news articles, in-depth investigative reports, and eyewitness reports in critical events that it identifies to be original. The firm says that it will take groups of articles on the same story and identify which articles cite the original source to then boost that reporting in users’ News Feed. The company is taking these efforts for news in the English language and says that it will expand to more languages in the future. However, the firm also adds that “most of the news stories people see in News Feed are from sources they or their friends follow, and that won’t change”.

As for ‘trusted authorship’, articles that do not contain information about the publisher’s editorial staff will be demoted in the news feed. Facebook says that it has noticed that publications that do not included bylines or a staff page on the publisher’s website generally lack credibility. Such items will not be boosted. It also adds that it consulted with 20 global media experts to form its editorial transparency standards. Additionally, these standards will apply only to limited markets, as it says that “in some areas, transparency can put journalists at risk”.

Facebook says that the change will result in increased distribution of original news. However, it anticipates that the impact of the changes for most of the publishers on the platform will not be “significant”.

The social media giant has been receiving backlash for its ad policies as part of the #StophateForProfit campaign. Many major companies have joined the campaign, including big names such as Unilever and Verizon. Others such as Coca Cola and Starbucks have suspended advertising on the platform. Microsoft also paused spending on ads on Facebook and Instagram, though for a different reason. Though the changes today look to be aimed at combatting misinformation, the company has not mentioned anything about the campaign or plans to respond to it.

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