Facebook started asking its European users which media outlets they trust in terms of delivering accurate news, having started displaying two-part surveys in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. The move is the latest step in the company's fight against the so-called "fake news," i.e. factually inaccurate or intentionally misleading stories that disinform, whether for profit or as part of misinformation campaigns seeking political gains. While the company is likely to eventually use the data to improve its artificial intelligence algorithms meant to flag suspicious stories, the results of the new surveys being sent to individuals in Europe won't have any user-facing consequences in the immediate future.
A company spokesperson said the firm will publicly announce any changes implemented into the News Feed in response to the results of the surveys should it decide to do so. News Feed rankings are hence set to remain unchanged for the time being and will still prioritize content from one's friends while leaving the little remaining space reserved for ads and content from news sources that Facebook currently deems trustworthy. It's presently unclear whether surveys will be targeted at random users or if the firm has a more defined structure for their distribution but users who receive them will be asked to disclose whether they're familiar with certain media outlets and if they can rate their trustworthiness.
Facebook's fight against digital misinformation has been ongoing since early 2017 but has so far yielded limited success, even though the company claims the situation is improving. Russian interference with the 2016 election in the United States that already saw Special Counsel Robert Mueller indict thirteen individuals and three entities in February is also connected to the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal which allegedly revolved around the presidential race as well. Top Facebook officials including CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg vowed to have the company do better going forward and combat potential misuse of its services such as misinformation campaigns and privacy violations in a more aggressive manner.