Facebook will start focusing on quality rather than quantity when it comes to delivering news to its users.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said Friday (Jan. 19) that starting next week the social media site will prioritize news sites. "[T]o make sure the news you see, while less overall, is high quality," he said, "I've asked our product teams to make sure we prioritize news that is trustworthy, informative, and local. And we're starting next week with trusted sources."
He said that there was too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world, and that if social media does not become part of the solution, it is part of the problem. "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 said, which is why the company is going to promote "high quality news" in its news feed.
Whose to decide what is high quality or trusted? Zuckerberg said he will leave that to the site's users.
The News Media Alliance (formerly the Newspaper Association of America), was pleased, but reserved judgment until it could assess the results.
"The direction of Facebook’s announcement today is very positive and we commend them for it," said Alliance President David Chavern. "We just all need to make sure that the implementation delivers on the stated goals. For some time, we have argued that Facebook should give priority to news from trusted sources. This would be positive for consumers, as well as help to address 'fake news' issues. Facebook seems to have embraced the basic idea, which is wonderful. What we don’t know is how the proposed system to identify trusted news sources will really work. We will be watching that very closely as the changes are rolled out."
Facebook and other social media sites are under pressure in Washington to take more ownership of their content and its policing.