Study: Facebook’s Problem Is Bigger Than Fake News


“Fake news” has been the buzzword of late as people bemoan the ability of a social media site like Facebook to rapidly spread misinformation. But a recent study claims that Facebook has a bigger problem.

Facebook is clearly one of the most dominant presences online, with most people saying they get at least “some” news from the site and 6 in 10 adults claiming they get “most” of their news from the service. Back in 2013, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to provide, “the world’s best personalized newspaper.” But the service may not be doing a good job at that, as only 20% of users say they even remember headlines they read on Facebook.

The site certainly isn’t hurting for user engagement (users spend an average of just under an hour a day across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger). The problem is, it appears, that people don’t consider Facebook a real news source. Users don’t go to the service seeking out news like they would a TV news broadcast or physical newspaper.

There is a “trending news” section, but a user’s feed is algorithm based, and tries to balance public news with personal updates and photos. It makes for something that’s easy to browse, but hard to remember. Facebook is missing out, the study says, on a big engagement opportunity. As users get (or many times confirm) news from other sources, it only further drives home the point that the service isn’t reliable. But if Facebook could show only relevant, verified news stories, engagement might go up.

So what are they doing to fix their reputation? For starters, Facebook is working with content publishers to produce “Instant Articles,” which load instantly and have a mobile friendly interface. Second, Facebook is turning their focusing towards video content. Video represents a high level of engagement, and an engaged user is one that stays around.

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