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Facebook updates how it prioritizes news on users' timelines

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FOX Business’ Susan Li says the Clorox Company, along with other companies, are pausing advertisements on Facebook in an effort to target the social media platform for reported hate speech.

Facebook is changing the way it prioritizes news stories in users' News Feeds, a company spokesperson confirmed to FOX Business Tuesday.

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The move comes as the tech giant faces scrutiny for not taking enough action against users who incite hate and violence on the platform and for not amplifying high-quality, original reporting.

"When we ask people what kind of news they want to see on Facebook, they continually tell us they want news stories that are credible and informative. Today, we’re updating the way news stories are ranked in News Feed to prioritize original reporting and stories with transparent authorship," Facebook Vice President of Global News Campbell Brown and Product Manager Jon Levin said in a Tuesday blog post.

The social media platform plans to address this goal in two ways: by promoting more original reporting and demoting reporting that lacks transparency, the company said.

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Facebook will use artificial intelligence technology to identify and promote original reporting by identifying, which outlets are cited most often as the original source of a story. Additionally, the company aims to demote stories that come from outlets that do not include accessible information about the publisher’s editorial staff.

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"We've found that publishers who do not include this information often lack credibility to readers and produce content with click-bait or ad farms; all content that people tell us they don’t want to see on Facebook," a spokesperson told FOX Business.

Facebook signup web page app on smartphone / iStock

While the new effort will likely not create a dramatic change in users' News Feeds because they will continue to see stories shared by their friends – although original reporting will be highlighted – it does signify a greater effort on Facebook's part to deliver higher-quality content to users who depend on the platform for news.

People on different sides of the political spectrum have criticized Facebook for its content moderation policies, which have changed in recent weeks.

Left-leaning users argue that the company promotes alt-right voices and hate speech, which has led dozens of large companies to pull advertisements from the platform and its subsidiary, Instagram, at the request of civil rights groups leading the #StopHate4Profit campaign.

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Right-leaning users argue that the platform's algorithms stifle conservative voices. Non-profit investigative journalism organization Project Veritas recently revealed instances of Facebook employee bias in a series of recent reports and videos called "Expose Facebook."

On average, one-in-five U.S. adults often get their news from social media, according to a 2018 survey conducted by the nonprofit Pew Research Center. Sixty-seven percent of U.S. adults get at least some of their news from social media, a 2017 Pew Research report shows; 67 percent say that news comes from Facebook.

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