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Facebook to prioritise ‘trustworthy’ news based on surveys

Atheer – External Sources

Facebook is set to start prioritising “trustworthy” news in its feed, using member surveys to identify high-quality outlets and fight sensationalism and misinformation, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has revealed.

According to Reuters, the company confirmed that its members, rather than experts or Facebook executives, would determine how news outlets rank in terms of trustworthiness. Facebook also said that it would put an emphasis on local news sources.

The move is likely to send shockwaves through the media landscape in nearly every country, given the ubiquity of the world’s largest social network and how central it has become in the distribution of news.

Zuckerberg revealed that he expects recently announced changes to shrink the amount of news on Facebook by twenty percent, to about four percent of all content.

He outlined the shakeup in a post on Facebook, saying that starting from next week its news feed would prioritise what it termed “high quality news” over less trusted sources.

“There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarisation in the world today. Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before and if we don’t specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them,” said Zuckerberg.

The change will affect not only links posted by news outlets but also news stories that individuals share, Facebook said.

News organizations immediately began considering how they would fare in the ranking.

The trust ranking will help to address fake news stories, said David Chavern, president of the News Media Alliance, a trade group for old-line US newspapers.

“For some time, we have argued that Facebook should give priority to news from trusted sources,” he said.

Facebook has had a stormy relationship with news organisations, particularly those with strong political leanings. In 2016, Republican US lawmakers expressed concern that Facebook, based in liberal Northern California, was suppressing news stories of interest to conservative readers.

Zuckerberg said that he settled on the idea of surveying Facebook users, after rejecting the idea of the company itself ranking news outlets’ trustworthiness.

“We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective,” he wrote.

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