Tech

How the Facebook algorithm update will change your news feed

Nicole Morley

How the Facebook update will change your news feed
The Facebook algorithm is about to change again (Picture: Getty)

You Facebook news feed is about to change.

Recently, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was reverting to its roots as a site for online socialising.

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The site is taking steps to push more personal content – so you may be more likely to see your friend Sarah’s holiday snaps, rather than breaking news.

That said, the site is also requesting data from users to discover which news sources people trust and want to see posts from.

It’s the second major tweak to Facebook’s algorithm announced this month.

Facebook says big changes are coming to your news feed getty images
Zuckerberg says users will rank newsworthy sources for the site’s news feed (Picture: Getty)

Here is what we know about the update:

Facebook is taking another step to try to make itself more socially beneficial, saying it will boost news sources that its users rate as trustworthy in surveys.

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In a blog post and a Facebook post from CEO Zuckerberg, the company said it is surveying users about their familiarity with and trust in news sources.

This data will influence what others see in their news feeds, Zuckerberg added.

The social-media giant, a major source of news for users, has struggled to brush off an uproar over fake news and Russian-linked posts, alleged to influence the 2016 US elections, on its platform.

The company has slowly acknowledged its role in that foreign interference.

Fake news survey
(Picture: Shutterstock)

Zuckerberg has said his goal for this year is to fix Facebook, whether by protecting against foreign interference and abuse or by making users feel better about how they spend time on Facebook.

So, the company is set to try to have users see fewer posts from publishers, businesses and celebrities, and more from friends and family.

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Zuckerberg said because of that, news posts will make up 4% of the news feed, down from 5% today.

Facebook says it will start prioritising news sources deemed trustworthy in the US and then internationally. It says it has surveyed a ‘diverse and representative sample’ of US users and next week it will begin testing prioritising the news sources deemed trustworthy.

Publishers with lower scores may see a drop in their distribution across Facebook.

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‘There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarisation in the world today. 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.

‘That’s why it’s important that News Feed promotes high quality news that helps build a sense of common ground,’ he wrote.

Of course, there are worries that survey-takers will try to game the system, or that they just will not be able to differentiate between high-quality and low-quality news sources – an issue made evident by the spread of many fake-news items in the past few years.

Zuckerberg says that some news organisations ‘are only broadly trusted by their readers or watchers, and others are broadly trusted across society even by those who don’t follow them directly’.

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