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Facebook now to prioritise ‘trusted’ sources

Facebook has said it will prioritise news from “trusted” and local news sources in user news feeds following significant publisher backlash over the social media giant’s algorithm changes.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced in a post on Monday that the company was beginning to introduce changes to placate publishers, which have already launched in the US.

“Last week we made an update to show more news from sources that are broadly trusted across our community. Today our next update is to promote news from local sources,” Mr Zuckerberg said.

“Local news helps build community – both on and offline. It’s an important part of making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is valuable.

“Starting today, we’re going to show more stories from news sources in your local town or city. If you follow a local publisher or if someone shares a local story, it may show up higher in News Feed,” he said.

The announcement goes hand-in hand- with a newly-launched, two-question survey to gain insight into which news organisations people had heard of and trusted.

Mr Zuckerberg said that objectivity was an important consideration in this process.

“The hard question we’ve struggled with is how to decide what news sources are broadly trusted in a world with so much division,” he said.

“We could try to make that decision ourselves, but that’s not something we’re comfortable with. We considered asking outside experts, which would take the decision out of our hands but would likely not solve the objectivity problem. Or we could ask you – the community – and have your feedback determine the ranking.”

However, the statement fails to acknowledge the influence of partisan responses from users. This issue was one initially raised by News Corp Australia at when the charges were first announced.

A Facebook spokesperson refused to make further comment.

Earlier this month, the social network announced its new algorithm that would place greater emphasis on posts from friends rather than those of pages. The ideology behind the change was to keep users better connected to friends and family and fight the spread of fake news on the site.

It is unclear just how much of an impact the changes have made for publishers at this point, but it appears Facebook is continuing to make changes to the algorithm.

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