Murdoch Weighs in on Facebook Algorithm Changes

Facebook’s recent announcement that it would be changing its Newsfeed algorithm has been met with a significant amount of concern from the media industry. As MediaFile reported Monday, Facebook’s prominent position as a leading news provider means that the changes have a significant chance of hurting the bottom line of several news companies.

Following the infiltration of fake news that dominated 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been tasked with the challenge of assuring that the site’s large user base is only able to access news content which is deemed reliable and trustworthy. With the 2018 U.S. midterm elections approaching, and increasing scrutiny on the company to ensure that disinformation does not perpetuate on the site, Zuckerberg announced that media content that has typically appeared in users’ news feeds would be filtered and replaced in part with content from family and friends.

In addition, Facebook has also announced its plan to rank news sources based on users’ evaluations of credibility. Sources that are ranked most credible by U.S. users will be more likely to appear in the news feed, while low-ranking sources will be removed.

The move was met with enthusiasm by investors, as Facebook (and other digital platforms) have been plagued recently by Congressional inquests and investigations over their role in the 2016 election.

While the algorithm changes may convince stockholders that Facebook has been re-situated as a passive content provider rather than an active news media service, for individuals like News Corp Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch, the change may have done the opposite.

In a statement, the media tycoon stated that Facebook’s ability to filter out untrustworthy news sources made reliable news providers increasingly valuable to the company. Murdoch argued that publishers who are deemed credible should receive some form of compensation from Facebook similar to the fees cable distributors pay to television channels, known as “carriage fees.”

“Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists,” Murdoch said.  “Publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content, but are not being adequately rewarded for those services.”

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