Facebook made an announcement about a week ago noting it was ready to make some big changes in how it handles the News Feed. These changes were welcome by most users, but the social network isn't stopping there. Facebook is now calling on users to help it ensure that the news you see in your feed is from quality sources.
This is what Facebook says is the second major update it will embark on this year to ensure that you consume high-quality content. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote, "Last week I announced a major change to encourage meaningful social interactions with family and friends over passive consumption. As a result, you'll see less public content, including news, video, and posts from brands. After this change, we expect news to make up roughly 4% of News Feed -- down from roughly 5% today. This is a big change, but news will always be a critical way for people to start conversations on important topics."
In a post about the change, Zuckerberg admits that there is too much "sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today." He also says that social media helps people to spread information faster, and if it doesn't help tackle problems with misinformation, social media amplifies the problem.
Zuckerberg wrote, "The hard question we've struggled with is how to decide what news sources are broadly trusted in a world with so much division. We could try to make that decision ourselves, but that's not something we're comfortable with. We considered asking outside experts, which would take the decision out of our hands but would likely not solve the objectivity problem. Or we could ask you -- the community -- and have your feedback determine the ranking."
The way this will work is that Facebook will ask users if they are familiar with a news source and if they trust that source. "The idea is that some news organizations are only trusted by their readers or watchers, and others are broadly trusted across society even by those who don't follow them directly. (We eliminate from the sample those who aren't familiar with a source, so the output is a ratio of those who trust the source to those who are familiar with it.)," wrote Zuckerberg.
The end result of this second phase of Facebook's plan won't be a change in the amount of news seen on the social network, but a shift in the balance of what you see towards sources that are determined to be trustworthy by the community. Facebook notes that publishers may see a decrease in distribution or an increase depending on how the community views the source. Facebook says it will be working on these efforts for the rest of 2018.
Zuckerberg wrote, "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."