Facebook To Measure User Trust In Publications

To fill feeds with higher-quality news, Facebook plans to begin surveying a representative sample of users to measure their familiarity with -- and trust in -- various publishers.

“We’ll start with the U.S. and plan to roll this out internationally in the future,” Adam Mosseri, head of News Feed, notes in a new blog post.

Regarding News Feed ranking, Mosseri warned: “Publications that do not score highly as trusted by the community may see a decrease.”

That's not entirely new terrain for Facebook. The social giant has been asking members to rank the informativeness of updates in their feeds since 2016.

Going forward, “we’re evaluating ways to expand this work to more areas this year,” Mosseri said. For Facebook, the changes are part of a broader war on low-quality content.

At the expense of content from businesses and publishers good and bad, Facebook just recently said it would be giving greater priority to fare from users’ friends and family.

“Over the next few months, we’ll be making updates to ranking so people have more opportunities to interact with the people they care about,” Mosseri said in a separate announcement, last week.

In users’ feeds, Facebook also plans to prioritize posts that engender conversations and what its algorithms deem to be “meaningful” interactions. The changes will adversely impact the reach of businesses and publishers, Mosseri said.

Regarding Facebook’s bottom line, analysts have suggested the changes will likely have a negative impact in the short term, but a positive impact in the long term.

“The actions the company will take pose a headwind to growth for the business in the near-term,” Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser writes in a new note to investors last week. “However, we also think that the actions taken will be helpful for the long-term health of the overall business.”

In his note, Wieser also reasoned that the impact of reduced ad impressions on revenue might be mitigated by Instagram’s continued growth, Facebook’s pricing power in the industry, and the fact that there are many ways to manage ad inventory, such as by focusing on higher-paying advertisers rather than lower-paying ones.

As part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s push for greater authenticity, Facebook also recently started cracking down on solicitors of “likes,” shares and other types of phony engagement.

It’s what Facebook calls “engagement bait,” or the manipulation of its News Feed algorithm in order to boost engagement and achieve greater reach.

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