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Facebook updates its algorithms to prioritize ‘original news’

Last week, as part of an attempt to reduce spam, click bait and specious articles, Facebook updated its algorithms, placing a heavy focus on original reporting and transparent authorship.

With half of the UK population now turning to social media for the latest news, Facebook seems to be the leading source. The update will prioritize original reporting of news stories, identifying and boosting outlets that publish the stories first.

Facebook explained how they intended to do this in a blog, written by Campbell Brown, VP, Global News Partnerships and Jon Levin, Product Manager:

“We will do this by looking at groups of articles on a particular story topic and identifying the ones most often cited as the original source. We’ll start by identifying original reporting in English language news and will do the same for news in other languages in the future.”

The idea behind this is to reward those who “take time and expertise” to produce original and important journalism.

The second element, transparent authorship, is pretty straight forward – if you’re publishing a news story, include a by-line.

“We will review news articles for by-lines or a staff page on the publisher’s website that lists the first and last names of reporters or other editorial staff. We’ve found that publishers who do not include this information often lack credibility to readers and produce content with clickbait or ad farms, all content people tell us they don’t want to see on Facebook.

But this is not the only updates the company is making, Facebook is also experimenting with a new feature where it will notify users when they are sharing a potentially out-of-date news article.

“Over the past several months, our internal research found that the timeliness of an article is an important piece of context that helps people decide what to read, trust and share,” Facebook Vice President of Feed and Stories John Hegeman wrote on the company’s blog.

Facebook hopes the updates will feed the appetite for more credible and informative news stories, resulting in news that feels authentic.