Facebook is to begin showing UK users more background information about the publishers and news articles they see in the social network’s News Feed.
The social network also plans to remove its trending news section next week after four years to make way for “future news experiences”, including a new section to highlight local news and breaking news flags.
- March 18, 2019
- March 13, 2019
- March 8, 2019
The new test feature (pictured), first deployed in the US last year, places extra context around articles and publishers which appear on the site, including links to Wikipedia pages about them and related articles on the same subject.
Facebook said the aim of the feature was to help users “evaluate the credibility of an article and determine whether to trust the article’s source”.
The social network has faced intense scrutiny over its handling of the spread of misinformation on the platform.
Last month the company published its internal enforcement figures for the first time, which highlight how much material was removed from the site – it included estimations from the firm that 3 to 4 per cent of its two billion active users were fake accounts.
As part of attempts to offer more context, the new tool also includes options to start following a publisher as well as information on where an article has been shared geographically and by whom.
It will also show which of a user’s friends has shared the story, and also show links to other recent stories by the same publisher.
In instances where publisher information was not available or did not exist, the social network said it would also indicate this, saying that this lack of detail can also be helpful context.
“We designed these features with feedback and input from a diverse set of people and publishers, including many participants in the Facebook Journalism Project,” the firm said in a blog post.
“We’ll continue to look for opportunities to improve this experience and help give people more context about the news they see on Facebook.”
Facebook’s Trending section was launched in 2014 “as a way to help people discover news topics that were popular across the Facebook community”, head of news products Alex Hardiman said today.
But, on average, it accounted for less than 1.5 per cent of clicks to news publishers and had only been rolled out to five countries, including the UK.
Hardiman said the way people access news was now primarily through mobile and video, adding: “So we’re exploring new ways to help people stay informed about timely, breaking news that matters to them, while making sure the news they see on Facebook is from trustworthy and quality sources.”
Facebook is testing a dedicated section called Today In to show people the latest breaking and “important” news from local publishers where they live, as well as updates from local officials and organisations.
It is trialling a tool which allows publishers to put a “breaking news” indicator on their posts in the News Feed. The test is being run with 80 publishers in North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia.
Facebook is also testing breaking news notifications.