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Facebook adds publisher content checks to news feeds

Facebook launched a new feature in Australian news feeds today called the “context button”, which provides users with more information about the content they are engaging with and its origins.

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The button was first rolled out in the US market in April, appearing alongside news content to show users several pieces of information to better identify the validity of the entry.

Features of the button include:

  • A link to a Wikipedia entry identifying the publisher and allowing the user to establish the validity
  • Identifying whom in the user’s networks had shared the content
  • Identifying where the content has been shared geographically
  • The appearance of related articles and content.


Andrew Hunter, Facebook’s news partnership lead, said the feature was “essentially a news literacy play”.

“This is about using the platform and introducing a new feature that will educate people”, Mr Hunter said at the Mumbrella Publish conference

The platform will roll out the feature in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. The UK has had the feature since May.

Publishers will be unable to turn the feature off or moderate the content that is shown.

Mr Hunter also alluded to the future roll out of Today In, a geographic mobile feature that allows users to receive updates about the city they live in, including weather and news and community discussions. Australia will be the first market outside of the US to receive the feature.

The tools will work with other features currently being tested in market including the breaking news indicator and developing stories tracker.

The breaking news indicator is currently being trialled in Australia by five publishers, including Fairfax Media, News Corp Australia, Seven West Media, Nine and the ABC. The tool is currently being shown to 15 per cent of audiences through A/B testing. From June 5 to September 5, publishers using the tag have seen an aggregated click lift of +4.9 per cent, a like lift of +6.4 per cent and a share lift of +14 per cent.

Users can also opt in to track a developing story topic via hashtags.

Facebook has been strongly expanding its Facebook Journalism project efforts since Mr Hunter was appointed to the role 10 months ago. The company has been meeting with publishers within the past months to identify the key issues they are dealing with and improve collaboration.

Mr Hunter joined Facebook in December 2017.
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