Facebook Vows to Prioritize Local News

But wait! There’s more! In what he calls Facebook’s “second major update this year,” Mark Zuckerberg today announced that he has asked Facebook product teams to “make sure we prioritize news that...

But wait! There’s more! In what he calls Facebook’s “second major update this year,” Mark Zuckerberg today announced that he has asked Facebook product teams to “make sure we prioritize news that is trustworthy, informative, and local.” Yep, you read that right … AND LOCAL.

“…it’s important that News Feed promotes high quality news that helps build a sense of common ground.” – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

So if the pillars of ‘high quality news” are:

  1. Trustworthy
  2. Informative
  3. Local

… then local news is in pretty good shape. Not to say there won’t be a decrease in Reach and Engagement as a result of last week’s update about Meaningful Social Interactions – that’s a given. In fact, in today’s post Zuckerberg said news will decrease from about 5% of the content in News Feed to about 4% of the content in News Feed. (That’s a 20% drop for you math majors.) But he also emphasized that “news will always be a critical way for people to start conversations on important topics.” So it appears the ultimate goal is for the disappearing 20% to be mostly made up of the news that’s NOT trustworthy, informative or local.

But How?

Good question. Zuckerberg himself admits it’s not easy to decide which news sources are trusted and which aren’t. And he says Facebook isn’t comfortable making that decision itself. So, he’s going to let the community decide…

“Here’s how this will work. As part of our ongoing quality surveys, we will now ask people whether they’re familiar with a news source and, if so, whether they trust that source.” – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

Zuckerberg goes into more detail in his post, saying: “The idea is that some news organizations are only trusted by their readers or watchers, and others are broadly trusted across society even by those who don’t follow them directly. (We eliminate from the sample those who aren’t familiar with a source, so the output is a ratio of those who trust the source to those who are familiar with it.)” Again, that’s a lot of math theory for 5pm on a Friday…but here goes: Facebook will rely on user-surveys to compare the number of people who “know and trust” a news source to those who “know and do not trust” the same news source. News Pages which are substantially “known and trusted” even by people who don’t Like/Follow the Page directly will be most highly revered.

Now What?

It will remain to be seen if the Facebook community is any good at sniffing out trusted sources of news. But if it works how Zuckerberg envisions it, your longstanding, local-news brand will be your golden ticket to the News Feed. And, ultimately says Zuck, “My hope is…when we read news (on Facebook)…it’s from high quality and trusted sources.” (Pssst: that’s you).




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