Facebook is prioritizing “authentic” content in News Feed with a ranking algorithm change that detects and promotes content “that people consider genuine, and not misleading, sensational, or spammy.” It’s also giving a boost to stories that are going viral in real-time right now that could help it compete with Twitter for in-the-moment news sharing
To build the update, Facebook categorized Pages that frequently share inauthentic posts like fake news and clickbaity headlines, or get their posts hidden often. It then used these posts to train an algorithm that detects similar content as its shared in the News Feed. Facebook will now give extra feed visibility to posts that don’t show signs of similarity to inauthentic content.
Meanwhile, Facebook wants to more quickly surface big stories going viral either because the topic is being posted about by lots of people, or a Page post about the topic is seeing tons of engagement. Facebook will then take that as a signal that you might temporarily care more about the topic, and therefore show it in your News Feed while it’s still hot.
Facebook says it doesn’t anticipate significant changes to most Pages’ News Feed distribution, but some might see a small increase or decrease in referral traffic or outbound clicks depending on if they share authentic, timely content vs inauthentic and outdated stories.
This is the latest push in Facebook’s ongoing quest to remove fake news from the News Feed. Last month it announced a slew of feature updates including partnerships with third-party fact checkers to add warning labels to fake news stories. Its reputation was marred by allegations that fake news in its feed helped get Donald Trump elected.
Facebook risks people turning away from the News Feed or being hesistant to click stories they see if it can’t get a handle on fake news. Since the News Feed is both the primary driver of Facebook’s mission to connect people, and the source of much of its ad revenue, battling misinformation is critical to its public perception, even if the company says fake news makes up only a tiny fraction of what’s shared.
Read our “How Facebook News Feed Works” guide to learn exactly what goes into its ranking algorithm