Your Facebook News Feed is about to change, yet again, and it’s because the social media giant wants you to be better informed.
Facebook announced Wednesday that it is rolling out a new update over coming months to ensure users stop seeing posts and ads on their News Feed linking out to “low-quality web experiences.” A low-quality website is subjective, but Facebook has set a clear definition for this purpose: it’s “misleading, sensational and spammy” pages “containing little substantive content” or are littered with ads. “This way people can see fewer misleading posts and more informative posts,” writes Facebook.
“Disruptive, shocking or malicious”
The company says it reviewed hundreds of thousands of web pages that are linked from the platform to evaluate which content has little substance or has an abundance of “disruptive, shocking or malicious” ads. Then, they used artificial intelligence to spot similar pages on the platform.
They’ve done this before.
Sound familiar? That’s because Facebook has used this tactic before to tackle clickbait. Last year, the company announced it had analyzed thousands of article headlines to determine whether or not they were clickbait (Think: “How To Lose 95 Pounds In Less Than One Week”). Using this data, they developed a software algorithm that effectively scores web domains and Pages on their clickbait violations and this score determines their status in a News Feed — much like the new algorithm.
“This is one of the first times we’re actually using information from the experience that people will have once they click something to help inform the ranking in News Feed,” product manager Greg Marra told Recode
But how will it affect fake news?
One practical result of this change is how it will affect the prevalence of “fake news” on the social networking site. It’s no secret that Facebook has a fake news problem — the issue was spotlighted amid the 2016 presidential election. While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied allegations — he claimed 99 percent of content on the platform is real — our sister site Gizmodo reported the company was aware of the problem and even had access to a tool that could block false content.
In the aftermath of the criticism and accusations, the company banned fake news sites from using the in-house ad network. Facebook also created a new, easier method for taking down false news posts: users can easily report a fake story by clicking on the upper right corner of the post and when enough reports are made, a third-party fact-checker evaluates the link to determine its authenticity.
Just remember: Facebook is making it less likely you’ll encounter fake content; they’re not eliminating it.