Facebook changed News Feed algorithm to push mainstream news sources after US election
Facebook made changes to its algorithm to push posts from established and mainstream news in the days following the US presidential election, reports The New York Times.
The algorithm changes were made after the company employees detected an uptick in the spread of misinformation related to the US polls.
According to the report, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreed to change the weight News Feed assigns to “news ecosystem quality” (NEQ) scores. The score is said to be an internal metric that is used to quantify the credibility and quality of a news source.
The change was part of Facebook’s “break glass” plans that the company had been working on in an anticipation of a contested election. The plans included tweaking the News Feed. Zuckerberg ultimately agreed to make the move when employees flagged high engagement to unverified stories on election fraud.
That said, the change allowed News Feed to push content from publishers such as The New York Times, CNN, and NPR. Reach of publishers such as Breitbart and Occupy Democrats was reduced.
Some Facebook employees have called for making the change permanent, the report added.
“There are many variables at play in every product decision we make, all aimed at creating the best possible experience for people,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge.
“The assertions in this report are based on sources who have no product decision-making authority and are advancing their own narrow impression of how our process works.”
The new report indicates Facebook’s efforts to crack down on fake news and divisive content as the company continues to come under more severe scrutiny. Zuckerberg along with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey were recently grilled by the US Senate over the handling of the US 2020 election.
During the testifying, Zuckerberg had acknowledged the employee base was inclined “to the left”.
“I do think it’s undisputed that our employee base, at least the full-time folks, politically would be somewhat or maybe more than just a little somewhat to the left of where our overall community is,” he said while responding to a question on systematic base.
He added, “So I do think that that means that we need to be careful and intentional internally to make sure that bias doesn’t seep into decisions that we make.”