Changes to Facebook News Feed Plan to Curb Misinformation

Under pressure from lawmakers, regulators, and some of its two billion monthly active users to fight misinformation, Facebook is tweaking how information is presented on its News Feed. Users in the U.S. will now be able to easily see a news publisher’s Wikipedia page along with a given story and can see how frequently it’s been shared on the social network. Facebook is under renewed criticism following reports that Cambridge Analytica “improperly accessed data on millions of Facebook users,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

“As part of the latest changes laid out Tuesday in a Facebook blog post, users in the U.S. will see an ‘about this article’ button with additional information, including related articles on the same topic, other recent stories posted by the publisher and a link to the publisher’s Wikipedia page,” explains The Wall Street Journal.

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Facebook also says it will favor posts and other content shared among users and friends rather than favoring content published by businesses and organizations. The changes will go live for U.S. users this week and will be rolled out internationally in time.

But why lean on Wikipedia, especially considering it’s open to edits from the public and has been known to have issues with misinformation itself? According to Facebook spokeswoman Lauren Svensson, because it’s “the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet” and “a well-known site that people recognize as a comprehensive source of information,” notes WSJ.

Additionally, the article notes that Wikipedia, which is “supported by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, has also become a go-to source used across semantic, search, and linked platforms, from Apple Inc.’s Siri and Amazon.com Inc.’s Alexa to Google’s Quora.”

YouTube also recently announced it would add links to Wikipedia to give its viewers more information about news-related videos (see related news items below).

Related:
YouTube May Add to the Burdens of Humble Wikipedia, The New York Times, 3/19/18
YouTube Will Link Directly to Wikipedia to Fight Conspiracy Theories, Wired, 3/13/18
YouTube Will Link To Wikipedia Below Conspiracy Theory Videos, BuzzFeed, 3/13/18