Facebook's Adding Publisher Logos to News Links to Reduce the Reach of Misleading Content
As part of their ongoing efforts to combat fake and misleading content on their platform, Facebook has announced the latest option to better inform users - the addition of publisher logos next to links in Trending and Search.
And while it seems like a relatively minor tweak, the actual impact of the change could be significant.
As noted by Facebook, part of the broader problem with lower quality content is that users can't necessarily discern what's reputable and what's not.
"Research has shown that when people see a link to an article, it can be difficult for them to associate that link with a particular source. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that only 56% of respondents could recall the source of a new link viewed on social sites."
That's further complicated by the way in which scam publishers work to replicate the look and feel of larger news sites - like this fake 'ABC News' site.
If it looks okay, users are less likely to question it - but if Facebook can change the perception of what's reputable and what's not, before they even click, that could significantly decrease the sharing of questionable 'news' posts.
Of course, shifting behaviors is difficult, but maybe, by adding in a logo for approved publisher sites, Facebook might be able to make people second-guess what they're clicking.
The new logos will appear in both the Trending News module.
And in search results.
The key element in this process will be that only approved publisher Pages will be able to upload their logos - for publishers that do qualify, they'll soon see a new section on their Pages where they can upload their logos, with three variations for the different presentations of posts.
By limiting which Pages can access this, Facebook can keep out fake news peddlers, which may help improve user recognition when they go to check a story.
The additional benefit of this process is that it gives publishers another way to build their brand on the platform. Facebook's received a lot of criticism over their publishing initiatives, particularly Instant Articles, and the ways in which they reduce brand recognition, and thus, dilute the publishers' ability to generate better connection with their audience.
They've sought to improve their efforts on this front in recent times, adding in new tools like direct connection buttons and e-mail list sign up within Instant Articles, in order to help ensure publishers can build audience through the option.
Adding in brand logos on links is another means to help facilitate this, enabling publishers establish their presence in a more direct manner, which will have flow-on benefits outside of Facebook itself.
Overall, it seems like a good initiative, both in terms of reducing fake news and boosting publisher capacity. How effective it will be is hard to say - there'll be stories that people will click on based on the headline, regardless of whether a logo is present or not. But if Facebook sees a significant shift towards posts which include a logo, that could also enable them to tweak their algorithm to favor content from those publishers - that's not something that's been raised at this stage, but the usage data will give them more options on this front.
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