Facebook returns to using only algorithms to organize its News tab
If at first the algorithms fail to stop the misinformation, just add humans. But if the algorithms get too heavy, just go back to the algorithm. So we’re going around in circles in the social media carousel.
Facebook owner Meta has confirmed that the human-curated “Top Stories” section in the “News” tab will instead be managed by the algorithm starting early next year. In an emailed statement, a meta spokesperson told Gizmodo “Most people don’t come to Facebook for news, and as a business it doesn’t make sense to invest too much in domains that do not match users’ preferences.” The company said less than 3% of what people see in their feed are news links. Apparently, the company sees news links as such a small reason people come to Facebook that they’re actively looking to cut back on all news-related features.
The UK-based news site Press newspaper initially reported that Facebook planned to end all human curation on the News tab in the UK. Human hands have mostly dealt with the Top Stories section of the News tab, but in 2023 this will be entirely algorithmically driven.
The Press Gazette reported earlier this month there were just 15 contractors and freelance journalists being paid to run the feed for millions of UK Facebook users. They were also reportedly barred from working for other companies despite not having guaranteed working hours.
Even this limited investment in having human help with news curation seems to be lagging behind. Facebook called the Top Stories section a small part of the overall news tab, while the rest was handled by the algorithm. “independentsources, which also previously included far-right bastions of disinformation like Breitbart.
According to the Press Gazette report, freelance journalists were strictly required to adhere to a spreadsheet that focused on non-sensational news from a list of “acceptable” news sites. They were also told not to focus solely on crime, politics, or other sensational titles.
Facebook has struggled to manage news on its platform, but their ineffective algorithmic curation policy has led to disastrous results. In 2016, reports began hammering Facebook that the algorithm had been rigged by the company. Gizmodo published their own article titled Former Facebook employees: we have regularly deleted information about curators which, while being hyped by right-wing figureheads and media, caused such an uproar Facebook has begun to balk at any new form of News Feed moderation (News Feed has been renamed “Feed‘ earlier this year). Leaked Facebook papers showed that after former President Donald Trump won in 2016, the platform began avoiding moderating right-wing pages that spread misinformation and fake news.
In response to the backlash, Facebook announced he was hiring real meaty humans to curate the real-time news tab.
Now, Facebook prefers to shy away from any hint that it still deals with the news, regularly calling it unprofitable and an increasingly less important part of its overall strategy. Facebook packages stop paying news publishers for content posted on his news tab, and he recently announced that he would be close instant articles in 2023. Meta, overall, has bigger things in mind, like pursuing the metaverse while copying TikTok in search of those sweet short video earnings.