In an effort to prioritize original reporting, Facebook is updating the way it ranks news stories in its News Feed. Beginning today, Facebook will use AI to analyze groups of articles on a given topic and prioritize the ones cited most often as the original source. It will also down-rank articles without bylines.
“Most of the news stories people see in News Feed are from sources they or their friends follow, and that won’t change. When multiple stories are shared by publishers and are available in a person’s News Feed, we will boost the more original one which will help it get more distribution,” Facebook’s VP of global news partnerships Campbell Brown and product manager Jon Levin wrote in a blog post.
Publishers probably won’t see significant changes in traffic, either, Facebook says. For now, these changes only apply to stories written in English, but Facebook will expand the approach to other languages.
Facebook’s plan to demote stories without a byline or transparent info about the publisher’s editorial staff is meant to promote credibility.
“We’ve found that publishers who do not include this information often lack credibility to readers and produce content with clickbait or ad farms, all content people tell us they don’t want to see on Facebook,” Brown and Levin wrote.
Companies like Facebook, Google and Apple are still figuring out the best ways to work with news publishers and promote quality journalism. There’s even more pressure to get that right now, with the 2020 election approaching and increased scrutiny (and a boycott) over the way Facebook handles posts by politicians, misinformation and hate speech.
Facebook isn’t the only tech company making changes. Yesterday, Google announced that it’s working with regional publishers to share local news stories related to COVID-19, and The New York Times pulled its stories from the Apple News app. Google also recently invested $6.5 million to fight coronavirus misinformation.