Social Engineering to the People: Facebook Asks Users to Rank Media Credibility

Alfred Osborne
January 22, 2018

The system will work through Facebook's existing quality surveys, with users now getting asked about whether or not they're familiar with the source and if they trust it. News sources that consistently get low ratings by users will be penalized, in ways that are not yet known. Facebook plans to let its users decide.

"There's too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today", Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

Facebook said earlier this month it would be shifting its News Feed algorithms to prioritize The News Feed is currently created to prioritize relevant content from friends and family, but now will highlight content that people are likely to regardless if it comes from a peer or a company. "This is a big change, but news will always be a critical way for people to start conversations on important topics", Zuckerberg posted Friday.

As part of that continuing battle, Twitter also announced on Friday that it had notified 677,775 US-based users who had retweeted, liked or followed Russian bot accounts on the network in the run up to the 2016 USA presidential election. 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.

"Feed promotes high quality news that helps build a sense of common ground". After this change, we expect news to make up roughly 4% of News Feed - down from roughly 5% today. With Facebook's new changes, as the Times noted, "If a relative or friend posts a link with an inaccurate news article that is widely commented on, that post will be prominently displayed".

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According to BBC, the change is an attempt to shift the key judgements over bias and accuracy away from Facebook's employees, and onto its user base.

"Policing this is going to be a nightmare for Facebook and publishers are going to go batty trying to game it", Jessica Lessin, founder and editor-in-chief of the technology news service The Information, . We could try to make that decision ourselves, but that's not something we're comfortable with. "We considered asking outside experts, which would take the decision out of our hands but would likely not solve the objectivity problem", wrote Zuckerberg.

"For some time, we have argued that Facebook should give priority to news from trusted sources", David Chavern, head of industry group News Media Alliance, said in a statement.

As Zuckerberg explains, though, the changes announced today shouldn't affect the overall breakdown of content beyond that four percent change, but rather tilt the kind of content you're served towards sources the community, and therefore the algorithm, determine to be more trustworthy.

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