Commentary

Facebook's Feeble News Feed Guidelines Target Low-Quality Content

Facebook this week provided more details about how it limits the spread of problematic content in its central news feed. The guidelines aren’t likely to worry mainstream publications, unless it’s the New York Post with a politically explosive story in the final days before a national election.

The social network’s content distribution guidelines say it demotes clickbait links, engagement bait, low-quality comments, sensationalist health claims and links to sites that ask for “unnecessary user data,” among other kinds of posts. It also downplays websites with “limited original content,” fact-checked misinformation, news articles lacking transparent authorship and unoriginal news content.

Included in that list of suppressed content are “posts from broadly untrusted news publishers.”

Facebook doesn’t specify which media companies are in that category, saying its determination is based on how people respond to surveys that ask: “Do you trust this news source?”

The guidelines aren’t likely to inoculate Facebook from controversy when it suppresses news as it did last year when the NYP published stories about the business dealings of Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden. The newspaper ran several articles about the contents of Hunter’s laptop that claimed his influence-peddling efforts.
Facebook’s policy is to stifle news until its third-party fact checkers have completed a review. Those fact checkers are useless when they’re incapable of doing any original reporting before concluding a story isn’t factual.
A book published this week vindicated the NYP by providing the original reporting so lacking at most other news organizations. “The Bidens: Inside the First Family’s Fifty-Year Rise to Power” by Politico reporter Ben Schreckinger presents more evidence that Hunter’s laptop material is genuine.
Facebook’s contents guidelines also ring hollow following The Wall Street Journal’s multi-part series that documents the social network’s indifference to everything from human trafficking to the mental health of teenage girls. A company spokesperson dismissed the paper's alleged mischaracterizations without disputing its facts.

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