Facebook to let users prioritize news sources

Joanna Estrada
January 22, 2018

Responding to charges it did not do enough to curb the viral spread of disinformation and divisive messages from Russian operatives, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook will boost the sharing of high quality news by allowing its U.S. users to rank which news organizations are most trustworthy to deliver it to their news feed. This means that the social network's own members may have nobody to blame but themselves for low-quality content. Publishers already hate the idea, as this "crowdsourcing of opinions" could lead to manipulation.

"Finally, people want more local news on Facebook".

The change comes as the online giant seeks to address charges that it has failed - along with Google and Twitter - to prevent the spread of bogus news, most strikingly ahead of the 2016 United States presidential election.

The CEO of the company, Mark Zuckerberg, took to the social networking site and said there is too much sensationalism which needed to be curbed. "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", he said.

In the past year or so, Facebook has attempted to employ some measures in its effort to fight fake news, including its third party fact-checking initiative. The new scoring system is only rolling out in the U.S.to start, but the company plans to eventually expand it globally.

The latest move comes a week after Facebook announced a major update to its user feed that highlights what friends and family share on the network, over advertisements, celebrity and media posts.

"We could try to make that decision ourselves, but that's not something we're comfortable with", Zuckerberg said. And we're starting next week with trusted sources. According to Zuckerberg, Facebook considered making the decision on news sources itself or consulting outside experts but ultimately felt that going to the community would be the most "objective" method of determining which news sources are most broadly trusted.

The social network has long struggled with fake or misleading news on its platform.

"What will happen in situations where a community determines that a news source is trustworthy, but that news source is censored, or illegal, in that country?" asked Kaye, noting that in many parts of the world, governments controlled all official news channels while independent news sources were outlawed or forced to publish pseudo-anonymously. It will only shift the balance of news you see towards sources that are determined to be trusted by the community.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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