More than half of all Facebook users consider the site a news source.
Those people can get their fix from stories their friends post, pieces or “Instant Articles” published directly to Facebook by news orgs, or the site’s own feed of “Trending” topics.
Facebook has previously said that trending topics are surfaced by an algorithm that identifies items that have recently spiked in popularity on Facebook, after which its “review team” writes the descriptions and picks photos for each post.
But a report by Gizmodo’s Michael Nunez sheds more light on the workflow of the contractors who were on Facebook’s news curation team.
Several main points stuck out about the way that team was reportedly instructed to do their jobs:
1. Contractors were reportedly encouraged to only promote videos uploaded to Facebook.
As Facebook ramps up its video platform, YouTube creators have criticised the social network for prioritising clips uploaded to its native video player.
2. Contractors were reportedly discouraged from mentioning Twitter and told to cite newsworthy items as happening on “social media” more broadly
This is something that Twitter execs have called out Facebook for in the past (Facebook denied this at the time)
3. Contractors reportedly had a list of traditional news sources that it considered “preferred media outlets.” They could also deactivate topics that were trending if those topics didn’t have three traditional news sources covering them
Read the rest of the Gizmodo story here, which has many other details on how Facebook’s news curation team works.
As more and more people rely on Facebook for news — and publishers rely on it more heavily as a source of distribution — understanding how it chooses what stories to promote is important.
The company has already had to promise that it wouldn’t use its influence to stop Donald Trump from becoming President.
Facebook wasn’t immediately available for comment.