Facebook made a post-election news feed change to focus on ‘nicer news,’ resulting in the platform promoting mainstream outlets more often.
Facebook reportedly made some changes to its post-election news feed to reflect ‘nicer news’ and this resulted in less visibility of alternative news sources in favor of mainstream media outlets. As one of the tech giants battling against the proliferation of misinformation, Facebook is currently testing a number of changes to how its news feed, and the platform in general, operates.
Popular social media platforms have been overwhelmed with false news and unverified information during the 2020 U.S. election, something Facebook has been trying to mitigate for some time now. This has led to the company taking an active approach on groups that are violating the platform’s community standards. For example, earlier this month, and without warning, Facebook started placing select groups under a temporary probation that could lead to permanent suspension, if they continually fail to meet the platform’s standards.
In an attempt to create a less divisive environment, it seems the popular social media platform is doubling-down on abrupt changes by toning down alternative sources, like Breitbart, while making mainstream news outlets, such as CNN and NPR, more visible on its news feed. According to the New York Times, Facebook utilized a hidden internal ranking system called “News Ecosystem Quality” to determine which news outlets it favored. While the system previously played a minor part in influencing the platform’s news feed, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly agreed to increasing the algorithm change days after the election.
Facebook’s ‘Nicer News’ Here To Stay?
Facebook has recently been putting stricter measures in place to halt the spread of groups posting information lacking credibility, but that doesn’t mean its news feed will be sticking to mainstream media from here on out. Despite some employees wondering if this modified “nicer news feed” would be permanent, the NYT report explains how Facebook executive Guy Rosen reiterated last week that the change was only intended as a temporary solution. Likewise, Facebook News Feed VP John Hegeman reportedly stressed that the company intends to learn from the change, even if it reverts back to its original state.
While this novel news-filtering system will inevitably be undergoing some changes again in the future, how long it will remain in effect is currently unknown. The company previously failed to react to high-profile posts on its platform, which led to some backlash in the process. As a result, it is not surprising that Facebook is now actively attempting to reduce what it considers less informative or, in this case, less nice news.
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