In an effort to combat fake news and misinformation on the platform, Facebook is making some changes to its treasured News Feed.
These changes are made so as to make the Feed more reliable with so many people nowadays relying on it primarily for their daily news, whether it be by reading it from publications posting news on its pages or through friends sharing information.
Before explaining these changes though, here’s a brief explanation of how Facebook’s News Feed works.
The social media giant actually uses a set of algorithms to rank each post in your Feed and these algorithms are based on four factors: inventory, signals, predictions and relevancy score.
Inventory is the amount of stories that could turn up on your feed, whether or not it comes from friends or pages. Signals are the details of the post, who posted it, when it was posted and more.
After determining the initial information, Facebook then makes predictions on how likely you will be engaged by the post.
The predictions are then consolidated into a score that represents exactly how interested you are in the story, and from there, the posts are then ordered as such on the Feed.
One of the biggest changes that Facebook will be making will be that it will now start to prioritise engagements and interactions between you, your family and your friends over other types of content.
This is done to provide users with a different experience, where they are more involved with the people around them, and can be seen as a way to reconnect with friends or people from the past.
“When you’re using Facebook, we want you to have fun as well”, said Sara Su, product manager of Facebook’s News Feed team.
The second major change is Facebook’s enhanced measures against fake news and misinformation.
With the nature of news in this day and age, the Facebook team are very aware of the challenges and complexities they face when trying to tackle the issue.
As such, they’ve come up with three steps to address dangerous accounts: Remove, Reduce and Inform.
Fake accounts as well spam accounts will be removed from the site when they are detected.
If a source is deemed to be posting false news, Facebook will also try to reduce the amount of visibility it has on the pages of others. These are for cases that are deemed not extreme enough to remove, but they will still be impeded for spreading harmful information.
Lastly, Facebook will increase its efforts to inform users on the news they read.
More context will be provided on stories, and users will soon have the ability to see an “About” section on an article they are reading. This section will also shed more information on the publisher.
That way users themselves will be able to decide for themselves if they would like to consume the news.
Related articles will also be suggested to users, and some articles will be checked for accuracy in a new feature on Facebook called “Fact-Checking”.
The new feature is tailored specifically for each country, with independent fact checking organisations from, for example, Singapore checking local publications and its news to determine if it is indeed credible.
Users will then be able to know for sure that the news they read is safe if it has been verified by the fact checkers.
Facebook has fact-checking partners in 17 countries today and is currently investing in ways to scale these efforts globally including Southeast Asia.
To find out more about what the News Feed team does and the obstacles they faced when dealing with such a sensitive issue, watch a documentary on the team here: