In a major change announced Friday to the Newsfeed used by 2 billion people every month, Facebook will now ask users to rank the news organizations they trust.
The move comes after Facebook endured a year of harsh criticism for allowing fake news and misinformation to spread on its social network. In reflecting on those challenges, company executives said they no longer want to be an arbitrator of the content people see.
In a blog post accompanying the announcement, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote Facebook is not "comfortable" deciding which news sources are the most trustworthy in a "world with so much division."
The new trust rankings will emerge from surveys the company is currently conducting. "Broadly trusted" news outlets that are affirmed by a cross-section of users may see a huge boost in readership, while those that receive poor ratings could see their web traffic decline significantly. The changes will also promote local news sources, which have suffered major subscription and readership declines as news consumption has migrated online.
The change also comes on the heels of a major News Feed redesign, announced last week, in which Facebook said users would begin to see fewer posts from news organizations and brands in their scrolling feeds in favor of "meaningful" posts from friends and family. Currently, 5 percent of posts Facebook users see come from news organizations; that number will drop to 4 percent after the redesign.
Facebook has been struggling to figure out its role as a dominant distributor of information in an era of fake news, foreign manipulation, and dwindling revenues for many media organizations.
More than two thirds of Americans now get some of their news from social media, according to Pew Research Center. That shift has empowered Facebook, but has been challenging for many news organizations and put the company in an uncomfortable position of deciding what news users should see.
In the last several years, news organizations have directed resources toward Facebook's systems, writing headlines that will appeal to Facebook users and counting traffic from Facebook as a major source of revenue.