Facebook rolls back News Feed change that prioritized mainstream media

Facebook has rolled back a News Feed change designed to promote reliable news coverage in the aftermath of the US election. Last month, the New York Times reported that the company had made an emergency tweak to combat the surge in misinformation about missing ballots, miscounted votes and other forms of unproven interference. Facebook reportedly increased the weighting of an internal value called NEQ (news ecosystem quality), which tries to quantify the value and rigor of an outlet’s journalism. According to the New York Times, this meant greater visibility for mainstream publishers such as CNN and NPR, and less for more partisan sites such as Breitbart and Occupy Democrats.

But now that’s changed. In a fresh report, the New York Times explains that Facebook has now rolled back these “break glass” measures. “This was a temporary change we made to help limit the spread of inaccurate claims about the election,” Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesperson told the Times. “We’re still ensuring that people see authoritative and informative news on Facebook, especially during major news cycles and around important global topics like elections, COVID-19 and climate change.” Before the reversal, some employees had asked whether the tweak could become permanent, according to the Times. Clearly, Facebook decided that it was necessary to switch everything back.

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