At the beginning of the month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company would deemphasize posts from brands and news organizations in favor of friends and family. In a new challenge to social media management, he’s looking to Facebook users to pick the most trustworthy and reliable news sources to show to people.
Zuckerberg, in a post on Facebook, writes:
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 Feed promotes high quality news that helps build a sense of common ground.
The hard question we’ve struggled with is how to decide what news sources are broadly trusted in a world with so much division. 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. Or we could ask you — the community — and have your feedback determine the ranking.
We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective.
To do that, the company is surveying users to determine which news sources are most trusted. It will then emphasize those news sources. The company will also work to bring more local news to users.
“Broadly trusted” news outlets that are affirmed by a signficant cross-section of Facebook users may see a huge boost in readership, while organizations receiving poor ratings could see their web traffic decline significantly. The changes will also promote local news sources, which have suffered major subscription and readership declines as news consumption migrated online.
Those of us in social media management can expect to see more experimentation with Facebook’s News Feed as the year progresses.