Facebook to prioritise ‘original news reporting’ amidst advertiser boycott

Facebook has announced that it will prioritise “original reporting and stories with transparent authorship” in its News Feed, in the midst of the platform facing an advertiser boycott and the possibility of being forced to pay for news.

A blog post from Campbell Brown, VP of global news partnerships, and product manager Jon Levin, said that articles identified as original reporting will be prioritised through a method of identifying the most-cited original source in a group of articles addressing a particular topic.

Facebook states it will prioritise original and transparent reporting

The new process will begin with English language news and will gradually expand into other languages.

“Original reporting plays an important role in informing people around the world, from breaking a news story, to creating an in-depth investigative report, uncovering new facts and data, sharing critical updates in times of crisis, or broadcasting eyewitness reports. This important journalism takes time and expertise, and we want to ensure that it’s prioritised on Facebook,” Brown and Levin wrote.

News articles will also be reviewed for bylines or information about a publication’s editorial team, including first and last names, to determine the source’s credibility. Content that does not have transparent information about the author will be demoted in the News Feed.

However, Brown and Levin said they understood that in some areas, “transparency can put journalists at risk” so this practice will be in limited markets to start.

The ‘signals’ of original and transparent reporting that Facebook will use were developed with feedback from news publishers and academic experts.

Brown and Levin anticipate that “most news publishers won’t see significant changes to their distribution in News Feed as a result of these updates”, however, “it’s important to remember that News Feed uses a variety of ranking signals to prioritise content”.

In May, the ACCC released a concepts paper outlining frameworks that would enable Australian publishers to be compensated by digital platform such as Facebook and Google for the use of their content.

Once course of action suggested was a ‘collective boycott’ of Google and Facebook, while a less radical plan was collective bargaining.

Earlier this week, Facebook announced it would be introducing a feature which would highlight that news articles are over 90-days-old when users attempt to share them.

The past fortnight has seen advertisers including Coca-Cola, Diaego, and Unilever pull advertising dollars from the platform to protest against how Facebook handles misinformation and hate speech.


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