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Facebook will give all US users helpful context about articles shared in News Feed

Facebook will give all US users helpful context about articles shared in News Feed


It should be easier to determine what’s news and what’s nonsense

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Facebook is now expanding a test it started last year to all US users, and the result will be more background information and a useful overview of the publishers and articles you see appear in your News Feed — after the meaningful stuff from friends and family, of course.

“We’re making it easy for people to view context about an article, including the publisher’s Wikipedia entry, related articles on the same topic, information about how many times the article has been shared on Facebook, where [it has] been shared, as well as an option to follow the publisher’s page,” the company said in a blog post. To see these details, tap the “about this article” bubble that’s located between an article’s image and headline.

Facebook will also note if a publisher lacks a Wikipedia entry, which “can also be helpful context” in its own way. After all, how credible can an article be if the company behind it lacks enough standing to make Wikipedia?

You’ll also be given the option to see “more from this publisher,” which rounds up other recent articles that have been shared by that company on the social network. And if any of your own Facebook friends have shared the current article in question, you’ll see that information, too. Maybe you’ll know to instantly dismiss something if it was posted by your truther uncle or a family member with opposite political beliefs. Or perhaps you’ll be more likely to click if it’s something a close friend felt to be worthy of sharing.

Alongside these new features, Facebook is kicking off another “small” test in the US: how much does a writer’s byline impact the article’s credibility? “People in this test will be able to tap an author’s name in Instant Articles to see additional information, including a description from the author’s Wikipedia entry, a button to follow their Page or Profile, and other recent articles they’ve published.”

Facebook’s attempts to pair objective context with articles is yet another step in the company’s effort to reduce misinformation on its platform, and the company claims it “designed these features with feedback and input from a diverse set of people and publishers, including many participants in the Facebook Journalism Project.”

Earlier this year, Facebook decided against moving news articles to a separate feed — an idea it had been exploring — after running tests in several countries. The company has already reduced the number of news articles in the News Feed by about 20 percent to promote more substantial interactions. Despite the reduced volume, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that providing users with trustworthy news remains a priority, and the social network is taking steps to help prop up struggling local news outlets.