Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), after long being continuously criticised for meting unfair treatment to news publishers, is currently taking huge strides in order to ensure media companies get their fair share of the spotlight on its social media platform.
Not too long ago in the previous month, the social media behemoth launched a revamped version of its News section. Now, to further step up their efforts, today Facebook has announced yet another feature that will massively benefit the news publishers.
The company has revealed that they will be boosting all stories with original reporting in the News Feed along with demoting the ones who do not happen to credit their editorial staff. This particular change comes along at a time wherein Facebook is facing a lot of heat for their not-so-strong stance against the widespread existence of hate speech and misinformation on its platform.
Numerous global heavyweight companies such as Unilever, Verizon, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Microsoft and others have decided to pull out from advertising on Facebook as a part of a campaign which is now being known as ‘#StopHateForProfit’. The damages are quite significant for Facebook as the company’s valuation tanked nearly 5% within just a week costing Zuckberg billions of dollars in his net worth.
Addressing the same, the Chief Executive Officer of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, on Friday went live on the platform to announce that the company will start to actively label all ‘newsworthy’ content from politicians and public figures that are violating its content standards. He also mentioned that any type of content which threatens violence or suppresses voter participation will be removed as well even if it has been posted by a public figure.
Now, though the blog post which was published today by the Product Manager of Facebook Jon Levin and Vice President of Global News Partnerships Campbell Brown doesn’t happen to mention the ad boycott, it can be well understood that this particular change happens to be a part of Facebook’s larger scheme of efforts to curb misinformation on the platform. These changes, according to Brown, have been developed after consulting with various news publishers and academics.
Back in 2016, when Facebook happened to choose the prioritization of content from friends and family over content from publishers, it ended up upsetting a majority of the news publishers who were partnered up with the company for its ‘Instant Articles’ section.
In the blog, both Brown and Levin clarified that news stories which Facebook users come across because their friends have personally shared it wouldn’t be affected. However, when multiple stories are shared by publishers and are made available in the News Feed, Facebook’s algorithm will be boosting the one which is most authentic for getting more distribution.
Facebook, for deciding on the authenticity or originality of the content, will mainly be taking note of either transparent authorship or a staff page on the publisher’s website. According to Brown and Levin, the company has found that publishers who do not include any information related to authorship on their website often lack credibility and produce content which is simply clickbait. Thus, in order to avoid Facebook users from being subjected to these type of content, they will start actively stressing on the element of authorship and reward the publishers who are following the guidelines correctly and making a genuine effort to create original content.
But publishers, in light of the announcement of these changes, shouldn’t get too excited. It is categorically mentioned by Brown and Levin in the blog post that publishers wouldn’t be able to observe any massive changes in terms of traffic. This is because there still remains a lot many other signals, besides the newly proposed ones of originality and author credit, which go into deciding how a particular piece of content is ranked in the News Feed.