Facebook Explains Content It Demotes in News Feed in Bid for Transparency

Facebook on Thursday said it reduces the distribution of certain content including clickbait, posts with “sensationalist” or exaggerated health claims or low-quality videos on its news feed, and outlined its content guidelines as the social media platform faces increased scrutiny over how it displays content to users.

In a blog post, Facebook said it sought to provide clarity on the content it down-ranks in the news feed, which the company said is based in part on feedback from users.

The post comes after the Wall Street Journal reported last week that efforts to change the content algorithm to boost “meaningful social interaction” ended up rewarding posts with outrage or sensationalism.

Facebook said it also demotes content from news publishers that users rate as untrusted in surveys and content posted by pages or accounts that repeatedly violate its rules.

In other Facebook-related news, the platform said it is underreporting the results of its advertising business on Apple iOS devices, acknowledging that recent privacy changes from the iPhone maker have made it more expensive and difficult for brands to advertise on Facebook.

Facebook said it estimates it is underreporting “conversions,” an industry term that includes buying of products or other actions a person takes after seeing an advertisement, by 15 percent, adding that the figure varied among individual advertisers. Facebook said it believed actual conversions such as sales and app downloads are higher than reported.

The announcement comes as Facebook and the larger digital advertising industry continues to grapple with the privacy controls implemented by Apple in April, which are designed to limit digital advertisers from tracking iPhone users for advertising purposes without their consent.

Facebook fought back against the changes, arguing it would hurt small businesses that rely on targeted advertising to find new customers.

The social media company previously warned investors that there would be “greater impact” of the Apple changes on Facebook’s advertisement business during the third quarter compared with its second quarter.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


This week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, we discuss iPhone 13, new iPad and iPad mini, and Apple Watch Series 7 — and what they mean to the Indian market. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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