Facebook Favours Transparency and Originality in its News Algorithm Update

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The takeaways

  • Facebook has updated its News Feed algorithm to show users stories that are written with transparency and credibility, while demoting content that doesn’t meet these standards.
  • News Feed will use AI analysis to show users news content that has been most cited as a source on a particular topic.
  • Facebook continues to face mass criticism and an advertising boycott due to its perceived weaknesses in addressing hate, political bias and misinformation.

What happened?

This morning, Facebook revealed that starting today, its News Feed will prioritize stories with original reporting. News Feed’s algorithm will group articles by topic to identify the most cited original sources and promote them to audiences. Publications that don’t clearly credit article creators will be demoted.

The announcement was made by VP of Global News Partnerships Campbell Brown and Product Manager Jon Levin. The two wrote that publishers that don’t credit authorship “often lack credibility to readers and produce content with clickbait or ad farms.” The changes only apply to news content and affect English-language stories for now.

Brown and Levin clarified that News Feed will keep showing users stories from sources they or their network follow. Facebook is speaking with both business and editorial publishing executives to define “original reporting,” which will enable its algorithms to boost original stories and conduct user research.

A new approach to misinformation?

Although Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced last Friday that the platform will remove content suppressing voter participation or inciting violence, he also said “newsworthy” content from politicians that violates its content standards will only be labeled due to their “public interest value.” 

Neither announcement addressed Stop Hate for Profit’s ongoing ad boycott against Facebook but Zuckerberg stated “that now we identify almost 90% of the hate speech we remove before anyone even reports it to us. [We also publish] regular transparency reports so people can hold us accountable.”

Facebook updated News Feed in 2016 and 2018 to prioritize user content over publishers. Publishers should not expect “significant changes” to their Facebook traffic due to News Feed’s content ranking signals. Google updated its news feed last year to promote original reporting.

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