Facebook is rethinking its approach to news, and Monday the company made its clearest statement yet on where that process is heading. “We are, for the first time in the history of Facebook, taking a step to try to define what quality news looks like and give that a boost,” Facebook’s head of news partnerships Campbell Brown said in an interview at Recode’s Code Media conference.
But while its goal is clear, the path Facebook is taking won’t necessarily get it there. As Brown and Facebook News Feed head Adam Mosseri made clear during their talk, the company is going to emphasize three factors — local, informative, and trusted news sources — but these metrics don’t seem sufficient to effectively determine what quality news is on their own.
Emphasizing these factors, which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined in a recent post, does amount to a major departure for Facebook. The company has a long history of downplaying its role in making editorial decisions about news content. But as Facebook tries to get away from the sensationalized, fake, and vapid news that’s plagued its platform, it’s still taking a light, indirect approach that isn’t likely to solve its problems.
Facebook’s plan to rely on a user survey to help it figure out what “trustworthy” content it will promote, for instance, won’t assuredly lead to it promoting more quality content. The company announced plans to survey a wide array of Facebook users about their familiarity and trust level with publishers, and it will use feedback gathered in the survey to promote news from publications that readers…