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Facebook’s fake news algorithm seems to be working

The Outline: “Facebook’s January 12 announcement that it would begin to deprioritize news in users’ News Feed left publishers shaking in their boots. “[B]y making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” admitted Mark Zuckerberg, much to the horror of every major media outlet, most of which relied heavily on the traffic generated from the site. And for a while, it truly did look like the apocalypse was nigh: The Outline’s investigation from early March showed that traffic for most conservative publishers and nearly all publishers of viral and needlessly polarizing content experienced a significant drop in the month following the News Feed change. In the wake of Newswhip’s recent analysis of top publishers’ Facebook engagement data over March and April, many have come to the similar conclusions of partisan bias (though the winners and losers often switch, depending on who’s talking). However, new information that takes into account the last four months as a whole — rather than merely looking at month-to-month trends — tells a much different story. According to data The Outline obtained from research tool CrowdTangle, a subsidiary of Facebook, Facebook’s January news feed algorithm change has had little to no effect on mainstream conservative and liberal publishers in the long run, with most actually experiencing increased interaction rates following February. However, publishers of clickbait, purposefully polarizing content, and/or blatantly fake news have experienced a significant sustained drop in interaction in the months following Facebook’s January News Feed deprioritization announcement. The Outline came to these conclusions after analyzing the Facebook interaction rates of 20 publishers from November 1, 2017 to April 20, 2018. CrowdTangle calculates a particular Facebook page’s interaction rate by dividing the average number of interactions (i.e. likes, comments, shares, etc) in a given time period by the size of the account…”

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