Facebook announced this week that it is fighting misinformation on user’s news feeds by favoring local news over national news.
“We’re making a series of updates to show more high quality, trusted news. Last week we made an update to show more news from sources that are broadly trusted across our community. Today our next update is to promote news from local sources,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his page. “Many people told me they thought that if we could turn down the temperature on the more divisive issues and instead focus on concrete local issues, then we’d all make more progress together.”
Now, local publishers and stories will appear higher up on the News Feed than national news networks.
Campus Reform Media Director Cabot Philips says these changes come at a time when Facebook is desperately trying to revamp its public image.
“It’s because of the bad PR that came out the 2016 election,” Philips told CBN News. “People were feeling like they weren’t doing enough to protect against misinformation.”
During the elections there were accusations that false news reports and misinformation were widespread on the social platform. While some applaud this new move to combat “fake news” and misinformation, Philips remains cautious.
“Some conservative news sites have been labeled fake news. Does fake news now constitute biased news or anything you disagree with?” he asked.
Former Facebook workers reportedly told Gizmodo.com in 2016 that they censored conservative stories in the site’s “Trending News” category.
“Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section,” Gizmodo reported.
“Several former Facebook “news curators,” as they were known internally, also told Gizmodo that they were instructed to artificially “inject” selected stories into the trending news module, even if they weren’t popular enough to warrant inclusion—or in some cases weren’t trending at all,” the site reported.
To help assuage these fears of censorship, Philips says Facebook “needs to be a little more clear about what they classify as fake news.”
“It is a good effort regardless. American’s perception of big tech is all time low,” he concluded.