Facebook drops newsfeed experiment after it promoted fake news

News Feed FYI Ending the Explore Feed Test

News Feed FYI Ending the Explore Feed Test

In a blog post, Facebook's head of News Feed, Adam Mosseri, said the experiment was motivated by "consistent feedback" that people wanted to see more from friends and family and less from media organizations and businesses.

According to Facebook, user surveys reveal people are "less satisfied" with the posts they're seeing, and having two feeds failed to help them better connect with friends and family.

Mosseri wrote, "You gave us our answer: People don't want two separate feeds". And indeed that question proves why the social network is getting rid of it. Explore was meant to create another feed for all content from publishers and companies. Users had to click an "Explore Feed' button to access unpromoted posts from publishers". The tech giant specifically said it would jettison its "Disputed Flags" program, which instituted indicator warnings for potentially fraudulent or misleading information in certain articles seen on the trending news sidebar or users' news feeds.

U.S. digital publisher Little Things became the first major casualty of the algorithm change this week, after a "catastrophic" and sudden drop in organic and influencer traffic of more than 75 per cent.

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Lifestyle site Little Things claimed it had to close after losing 75% of its organic page views - similar to the drop reported by Slovakian journalist Filip Struhárik after Explore Feed was implemented in the country.

The second timeline let users discover content beyond the friends and pages they already follow - meaning it looks less familiar than the main feed. "We didn't communicate the test clearly", Mosseri wrote about the media complaints.

Facebook noticeably chose smaller countries with emerging markets to carry out the test, a sentiment that was not lost on local publishers.

The changes and their implementation are examples of what is being recognized as a broad tone-deafness and ignorance of the ways in which changes to a platform used by over 1 billion people are received. As such, the social network is ending the tests, which have faced criticism for making the company's fake news problem even worse.

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