San Francisco - Facebook, which is cutting the amount of news in its news feed,
will prioritise information from the publishers that remain on the
social network by measuring how trustworthy they are, the company said.
Trustworthiness is based on a recent survey of US Facebook users
that gauged their familiarity with, and trust in, different sources of
The results will inform the company’s ranking in the news feed, a
stream of updates people see when they log in. News sources should also
be "informative" and relevant to people’s local communities, the company
said in a
statement on Friday. The move helps Facebook avoid perceptions of bias in
selecting what news providers to highlight.
"The hard question we’ve struggled with is how to decide what news
sources are broadly trusted in a world with so much division," CEO
Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on Friday. "We could try to
make that decision ourselves, but that’s not something we’re comfortable
Publishers expressed concern about the news feed changes announced
last week because many news sites have come to depend on traffic from
Facebook. On Friday, Zuckerberg said he expects news to make up roughly 4% of the 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," he added.
Facebook, which has come under fire for the spread of fake news on
its service, recently said it will reduce the amount of content from
brands and other company pages - including those run by publishers -
in the news feed. That move refocuses the company on content from
friends and family members, taking Facebook back to its roots, but it
less time spent on the site, Zuckerberg said last week.
The social network has had trouble managing its role as one of the
world’s most powerful news distributors. Ahead of the US presidential
election in 2016, Facebook was
criticised for bias because its human curators of a "Trending Topics"
section were only allowed to pick links from a set of sources Facebook
designated as trusted, which excluded some conservative sites.
Since then, the company has sought to address the spread of fake news
while trying to avoid being the arbiter of what is true or false. It
works with third-party fact checkers who look at articles flagged by
users as potentially false or misleading. Those efforts have had
little impact on the overall problem.