Facebook has cleaned up timeline: top 20 without spam for the first time

For years, Facebook relied on users to distribute messages. The system behind the news feed looked at what was popular and recommended it to others. That system turned into a spiral to the bottom: spam, shady web shops and clickbait news scored well and thus came to the top. That went so far that the top of Facebook started to be ashamed of it, reports The Wall Street Journal. And so a plan was put in place to get the “junk” off the Facebook front page.

That is now paying off. Facebook keeps quarterly in a report among what users have viewed the most, so far limited to the US. The latest report shows that the top 20 most popular messages contain no spam. Only one message falls under the description of clickbait: a loud or exaggerated news headline that the article does not live up to. A year ago, the top 20 was still 100 percent made up of such messages. Moreover, for the first time since Facebook has kept this list, the top 20 does not contain any messages that violate the platform rules.

Better definitions for ‘junk’

Facebook parent company Meta achieved the results by redefining the boundaries between high and low quality posts. And what is of low quality is no longer amplified and spread further by Facebook’s algorithms, is the thinking. “We are cautiously optimistic about the progress we have made in improving the quality of content on Facebook,” said Facebook head of integrity Anna Stepanov.

Publishing results like this is a way for Facebook “to hold ourselves accountable,” Stepanov says. The past third quarter shows some striking differences with the third quarter of last year. For example, the top 20 then consisted of messages with headlines such as “name the four words every girl wants whispered in her ear”. Facebook surveys then also showed that people would rather not see such messages in their feed. And also on Meta’s TikTok alternative Reels, videos that users preferred not to see scored, for example of people fighting or of illegally posted clips from TV series.

Optimistic but critical

“They should be proud of this,” said Jeff Allen, a former Facebook data analyst who now works for the Integrity Institute. This non-profit gives advice to politicians and companies on how to make better rules around social media. Allen argues that the top 20 proves that it works to “reward” other types of posts.

Still, Facebook still has a lot to do, because while the quality of posts in the top 20 and top 100 has improved, the quality of the top 500 and top 1000 is still not up to scratch, according to the Wall Street Journal. Facebook also only looks at the US in the reports, but the problem with low-quality messages is global. There are also concerns that the large round of layoffs at Meta will affect the strength of the moderation teams that guarantee quality.

Source: RTL Nieuws by www.rtlnieuws.nl.

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