Facebook Tweaks News Feed to Bury Low-Quality Links


New algorithms will bury links to sites with little value or poor-quality content.

Facebook has announced that it is rolling out a new News Feed algorithm intended to “bury” links to low-quality sites while promoting links to sites with quality content.

Facebook says a “low quality site” is one “containing little substantive content, and that is covered in disruptive, shocking or malicious ads.” This includes hosting pop-up and interstitial ads, advertisements for adult services, and eye-catching but disgusting ads for products that fight fat or foot fungus.

The change is intended to help users avoid fake news sites. Facebook explains that publishers of fake news are generally financially motivated, and therefore surround the untrue information in their articles with lots of ads.

Facebook predicts that the Internet’s best and most reliable news sites could see a slight gain in referral traffic, while low-quality sites will see less traffic as the new algorithm rolls out gradually over the next few months.

Greg Marra, Facebook’s product manager for News Feed, says the company designed its new algorithms based on information from users, who told them what disturbed and disrupted their experiences online. Many users complained about " misleading, sensational, spammy, or otherwise low-quality experiences . . .[including] sexual content, shocking content, and other things that are going to be really disruptive.”

Marra says Facebook “reviewed hundreds of thousands of webpages, identifying which ones have low-quality content.” The company used these pages to train an artificial intelligence algorithm to identify new links that point to low-quality websites.