Facebook tweaks News Feed to bring authentic stories to the top

1 Feb 201714 Shares

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The new algorithm changes will give higher status to authentic stories and will surface relevant content in real time. Image: AlesiaKan/Shutterstock

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In its war on fake news, Facebook has developed new algorithms designed to surface accurate and timely stories.

It was suggested that the rise of fake news on Facebook’s News Feed in the run-up to the US elections played a role in the outcome, and the company is taking these insinuations very seriously.

As well as testing new methods for authenticating real stories over fake ones, the company is now prioritising authentic content in News Feed with a new ranking algorithm change that promotes true content.

‘We’ve heard from our community that authentic stories are the ones that resonate most – those that people consider genuine and not misleading, sensational or spammy’
– FACEBOOK

It is also using algorithms to predict and rank – in real time – when posts are relevant to the user.

“We’ve heard from our community that authentic stories are the ones that resonate most – those that people consider genuine and not misleading, sensational or spammy,” Facebook said.

Can Facebook read the signals?

Facebook is looking at a multitude of signals, ranging from how close you are to a person or Page that is posting the news as well as universal signals, such as overall engagement.

To do this, Facebook said it categorised Pages to identify whether or not they were posting spam or trying to affect the News Feed by asking for likes, comments or shares.

It then used this data to train a model that continuously identifies whether posts from other Pages are likely to be authentic.

“For example, if Page posts are often being hidden by people reading them, that’s a signal that it might not be authentic.”

The social network has also introduced a new real-time signal algorithm to surface content that is more relevant to the user.

“We can understand in real time that the topic or Page post might be temporarily more important to you, so we should show that content higher in your feed,” Facebook explained.

“For example, if your favourite 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.”

Facebook said that the new changes won’t be immediately apparent.

“We anticipate that most Pages won’t see any significant changes to their distribution in News Feed. Some Pages might see a small increase in referral traffic or outbound clicks, and some Pages might see minor decreases.

“Pages should continue to post stories that are relevant to their audiences.”

Facebook user. Image: AlesiaKan/Shutterstock

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com