As part of its push to improve the quality of news and information on the social network, Facebook will be relying more on one resource: its users.
In a Facebook post on Friday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that starting next week in the U.S., the social network will begin surfacing articles in its news feed based on how people on Facebook rank the trustworthiness of individual publishers.
To gather this data, Facebook will now ask users in its ongoing quality surveys if they are familiar with a news source, and if so, whether they trust that source.
Facebook will then use the survey results to prioritize publications’ ranking in news feed based on users’ collective rating of each site’s credibility. Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post that it is the responsibility of social media companies to help prevent the spread of misinformation.
“There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation, and polarization in the world today,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. “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. That’s why it’s important that News Feed promotes high-quality news that helps build a sense of common ground.”
The change, which the company plans to roll out internationally, comes a week after Zuckerberg said Facebook will show fewer unpaid posts from publishers and brands on the social network as part of a year-long, company-wide push to foster more interactions between friends and family across Facebook’s products. Moving forward, Facebook expects news to make up about 4% of the news feed, down from 5% today.
Over the past several years, Facebook has oscillated with regards to how to present news on its site. The company, for example, was criticized for inserting bias into its curated “Trending” section ahead of the U.S. presidential election, and it has been publicly berated for enabling the spread of misinformation leading up to and during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Relying on its users to determine how to rank publications prevents Facebook from becoming what its executives call an “arbiter of truth.”
“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,” Zuckerberg said.