Facebook announced a new update to its News Feed this week that will re-evaluate how posts go viral. According to the site, Facebook’s team asks thousands of people every week to rate their experience and tell the site what it can improve when users check Facebook. Apparently, one of the things those people most dislike seeing is hoax stories.
The methodology Facebook used to determine its update is surprisingly old-fashioned. The site presented surveyed users with two News Feed stories and asked them which one they’d most like to see. The site then compared their answers to the order that Facebook’s algorithm would have ranked them. If the two don’t match up, Facebook knows it has to tweak its presentation. Through this system, Facebook was able to identify hoax stories that are going viral that are actually fakes.
“If there is a viral story about a hoax, it can get a lot of reshares and comments, which would normally help us infer it might be an interesting story,” Facebook wrote. “If the majority of people taking the survey say they would rather see another story in their feed than the viral hoax story, then we’ll infer the story might not be as interesting, and show the viral story lower down in people’s feeds in the future.”
It may seem like a small tweak, but anything Facebook can do to limit the spread of disinformation is definitely a good thing.