Facebook adds ranking algorithm to promote ‘authentic’ news

Facebook unveils update to surface authentic content higher in News Feed

Facebook has added a ranking algorithm that identifies misleading, sensational or spammy posts and lowers them in the News Feed – the latest attempt from the social network to prove it values authentic content.

It’s also announced an update that will see real-time trending content bumped up in the feed in a move that could see it compete with Twitter where news often breaks first.

To determine whether a post is authentic, the platform has a new way of categorising Pages that takes into account whether that page is posting spam or trying to game feed by doing things like asking for likes, comments or shares.

It also takes into account if Facebook users are often hiding content from a certain Page, rendering it spammy, misleading, or clickbaity.

It then uses posts from these Pages to train an algorithm that detects similar posts and identifies their authenticity. If a post is determined to be authentic by the algorithm, it’s likely to be boosted higher in the News Feed.

The platform also wants to boost its capability of surfacing breaking content in real-time, something its competitor Twitter has built much of its success upon.

To do this, if a post that is determined to be relevant to a user is getting a lot of engagement, or a topic is being shared a lot, an algorithm bumps that post up the feed in real-time.

“For example, if your favorite soccer team just won a game, we might show you posts about the game higher up in News Feed because people are talking about it more broadly on Facebook,” the update reads.

Facebook said it doesn’t anticipate significant changes to most Pages’ News Feed distribution, but some might see a small increase or decrease in referral traffic or outbound clicks depending on the authenticity and pertinence of content.

It's the latest attempt from the social network to tackle the critical spread of fake news on its platform, which is said to have played a part in helping Donald Trump win the presidential election.

It follows an update to its Trending feature last week that ensured topics were covered by a number of news organisations before appearing in the Trending tab, while paring back on personalisation in favour of serving everyone important news.

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Jessica Goodfellow

The Drum's media reporter covering everything from publishing, TV, social media, radio and technology.

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