Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The future of local news is “civic information,” not “declining legacy systems,” says new report
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Aug. 31, 2021, 4:05 p.m.
LINK: about.fb.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   August 31, 2021

Back in February, Facebook said that it would “temporarily reduce the distribution of political content in News Feed” for some users in Canada, India, Brazil, and the U.S. On Tuesday, the company said that these tests had “positive results.”

As a result, we plan to expand these tests to Costa Rica, Sweden, Spain and Ireland.

We’ve also learned that some engagement signals can better indicate what posts people find more valuable than others. Based on that feedback, we’re gradually expanding some tests to put less emphasis on signals such as how likely someone is to comment on or share political content. At the same time, we’re putting more emphasis on new signals such as how likely people are to provide us with negative feedback on posts about political topics and current events when we rank those types of posts in their News Feed.

The change was first reported by Axios.

People already don’t see that much political news in their Facebook feeds, we found in our analysis last year.

But if Facebook is switching its emphasis from outward-facing signals of engagement (the number of shares and comments a post gets) to inward-facing ones (users reporting individual posts or turning them off), the result could be fewer hyperpartisan stories in News Feeds racking up “angry” reactions and fueling hate reads. It could make politics discussion on Facebook a little bit more boring and a little bit less toxic.

It seems as though the changes may already be underway in the U.S.

But Facebook never reveals how it defines “political,” and who knows which publishers will end up hurting the most.

Show tags
 
Join the 60,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
The future of local news is “civic information,” not “declining legacy systems,” says new report
“In this vision, the community librarian facilitating conversations around authoritative, trusted digital news is as celebrated as the dogged reporter pursuing a scoop.”
Is text-generating AI an industry killer or just another wave of hype?
“There can potentially be massive shifts, benefits, and risks in many industries, but I cannot see a scenario where this is a ‘sky is falling’ kind of issue.”
Meet the first-ever accessibility engineer at The Washington Post
“It is definitely stressful to be the first in this new role. I feel deep down like I need to justify its creation with every step that I take.”