Saturday, 17 March 2018

Tech Thursday: No more fake news on your Facebook news feed?

The social networking site CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that they want to ensure that people aren’t getting deceived by untrustworthy news sites. Using surveys to rate news organizations and assign them trust scores, Facebook will then use those scores, along with other factors, to decide how much to show a source in people’s news feeds.

Zuckerberg said in a post: “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.”

“I’ve asked our product teams to make sure we prioritize news that is trustworthy, informative, and local. And we’re starting next week with trusted sources,” he continued.

Facebook has been one of the platforms spreading misinformation from entrusted sources and creating echo chambers where the same opinions and posts are regurgitated. Zuckerberg said that there’s too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization 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. That’s why it’s important that news feeds promotes high quality news that helps build a sense of common ground,” he said.

How do you rank trustworthiness of a news source?

Zuckerberg and his team have realised the complexities of finding out what news people trust in a divided world. So Facebook is asking its users to rank different news sites and sources to determine which one’s will rank high or low in terms of quality. The high ranking news sites will then appear at a much higher frequency than the low quality news.

How will this work?

  • Facebook is conducting surveys with its community of users.
  • Users will be asked if they are familiar with certain news sources.
  • If so, they will be asked if they trust the news source.
  • The news items trusted only by the readers and watchers will be separated from those generally trusted by society.
  • They will then eliminate the sample of those who are unfamiliar and focus on those that are trusted.
  • The update won’t change the amount of news you see, just the balance in terms of trusted news.

While this is a step in the right direction for Facebook, it won’t necessarily weed out all the fake news from your news feed completely but it’ll certainly ease the echo chamber.

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