In the wake of many instances of supposed “fake news” that surface from user feeds, for example, those that may have had a substantial role in influencing the previous year’s U.S. presidential election, and the inefficiency of Facebook’s algorithm to surface urgent news-piece posts on time in immediate response to the events as they occur, Facebook takes up a drive to mark and focus on newsworthy posts from the general informative posts. Until now, Twitter, the other giant social media site, had traditionally claimed the space of real-time news content such as live video broadcasts, while they had primarily offered less time-sensitive and responsive content.
But now, although it’s a baby step for Facebook as it isn’t yet bent on changing how its algorithm deals with real-time information, it has come up with a feature of a Red “Breaking” label for the publishers to underline the urgency of particular News Feed posts that are to be seen at that very moment. This ‘Breaking News’ tag test was commenced quite some time ago in November 2017 but is now being branched out from this week on to 50 additional publishers in Europe, North America, Latin America, and Australia.
Publishers in the test will be able to label Instant Articles, mobile andweb links, and Facebook Live as breaking news. They can use the indicator once a day, setting how long the story is marked as breaking for (up to 6 hours). Publishers also have an extra pool of 5 indicators per month. The posts will appear in News Feed and there will be information in Page Insights so that publishers can track how their tagged posts perform. – Joey Rhyu, Product Manager of Facebook
Also, the users can provide their important feedback and report the misuse of the feature for posts considered not newsworthy enough with the top-right drop-down arrow. With the Breaking news label and the drop-down click feature, Facebook charts a way to keep a tab on the filtering of posts as breaking news from a whole lot of news feed.
However, this feature has no bearing on the News Feed ranking of a post so the feature is most appropriate while the news event is still fresh and has not become dated, thereby serving to the immediate relevance of the news piece with respect to the recent event Facebook is to work on the aspect of the ranking consequence of this tag. “As part of this test, we’ll be evaluating if breaking news stories should be incorporated into a ranking,” stated a spokesperson of Facebook to Recode.
Nevertheless, just the visual pull of the ‘Breaking news’ tag has reaped positive results of user engagement with the ‘Breaking News’ posts, from December 8th to January 14th, such as a 7% boost in likes, 11% lift in Shares, a 4% rise in both click-through rate and Comments. This feature will help the publishers to process posts into news posts while also drawing in a lot more traffic, as already shown by the figures in the test.
We’ve been pleased to collaborate with Facebook to elevate breaking news on their platform and are excited – but not surprised – to see readers respond the way they have. Delivering accurate information quickly has always been core to our mission, and in an overwhelming news cycle we want our readers to be able to easily identify when there’s new reporting. – said Dave Merrell, the Lead Product Manager at The Washington Post
This feature has great potential to draw more and more ad views, and increased sharing of the news posts as the users read and react to the news, ushering into the new wave of interactive engagement over viral video stuff that has become prevalent on social media between users across the globe. Facebook seeks to continue working with news publishers with the Facebook Journalism Project. Indicating posts as ‘Breaking news’ will not just flash the best content, but by delivering information to the users about events while they are happening, it will disseminate information in the ‘now’ when it matters the most, highlighting what’s most important in the moment.