By Lawrence Audu.
Internet giant Facebook Inc says, it is launching a survey that will will prioritize “trustworthy” news in its feed of social media posts, using member surveys to identify high-quality outlets and fight sensationalism and misinformation.
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg disclosed on Friday that, its members, not experts or Facebook executives, would determine how news outlets rank in terms of trustworthiness. He also said it would put an emphasis on local news sources.
The move is likely to send shockwaves through the media landscape in nearly every country, particularly in Nigeria where fake news continues to polarize the country along ethnic and religious lines.
Zuckerberg said he expects recently announced changes to shrink the amount of news on Facebook by 20 percent, to about 4 percent of all content from 5 percent currently.
The chief executive outlined the shakeup in a post on Facebook, saying that starting next week the News Feed, the company’s centerpiece product, would prioritize “high quality news” over less trusted sources.
“There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today,” Zuckerberg said.
“Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don’t specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them,” he added.
The quality of news on Facebook has been called into question after alleged Russian operatives, for-profit spammers and others spread false reports on the site, including during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.
Two years ago, Facebook users saw hoaxes saying Pope Francis endorsed Republican Donald Trump for U.S. president and that a federal agent investigating Democrat Hillary Clinton was found dead. Facebook initially proposed fighting false stories by letting users flag them.
The change will affect not only links posted by news outlets but also news stories that individuals share, Facebook said.
News organizations have immediately began considering how they would fare in the ranking since the announcement. Facebook has more than 2 billion monthly users globally.