Facebook announced this morning that stories with original reporting will get a boost in the News Feed, while publications that don’t clearly credit their editorial staff will be demoted.
The change comes as a number of high-profile companies have said that they will pull their advertising from Facebook as part of the #StopHateforProfit campaign, organized by civil rights groups as a a way to pressure the social network to take stronger steps against hate speech and misinformation.
On Friday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company will start labeling — but not removing — “newsworthy” content from politicians and other public figures that violates its content standards. (He also said that content threatening violence or suppressing voter participation will be removed even if it’s posted by a public figure.)
Today’s blog post from VP of Global News Partnerships Campbell Brown and Product Manager Jon Levin doesn’t mention the ad boycott, and it suggests that these changes were developed in consultation with news publishers and academics. But these certainly sound like concrete steps the company can point to as part of its efforts against misinformation.
What gets prioritized in the News Feed has long been a thorny issue for publishers, particularly after a major change in 2016 that prioritized content from friends over content from publishers.
“Most of the news stories people see in News Feed are from sources they or their friends follow, and that won’t change,” Brown and Levin wrote. “When multiple stories are shared by publishers and are available in a person’s News Feed, we will boost the more original one which will help it get more distribution.”
As for “transparent authorship,” Facebook will be looking for article bylines, or for a staff page on the publisher’s website. As Brown and Levin noted, “We’ve found that publishers who do not include this information often lack credibility to readers and produce content with clickbait or ad farms, all content people tell us they don’t want to see on Facebook.”
While these same like smart, straightforward changes (Google announced similar steps last fall), Brown and Levin also warned publishers not to expect “significant changes” in their Facebook traffic, since there are a “variety of signals” that go into how content gets ranked in the News Feed.
Also worth noting: These changes only apply to news content.