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Facebook to share data on most ‘widely viewed’ content

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Facebook will be sharing quarterly reports with data on the most “widely viewed” content on the platform’s News Feed feature as part of a push the tech giant said will increase transparency. 

The reports, the first of which was released Wednesday along with the announcement, measure public content based on views as opposed to Facebook’s Crowdtangle tool that measures engagement on posts. 

Reports based on Crowdtangle data have shown in the past that pages for right-leaning outlets and public figures have had the highest levels of engagement.

“There’s a few gaps in the data that’s used. The narrative that has emerged is simply wrong,” Facebook’s vice president of integrity Guy Rosen said on a call with reporters. “Crowdtangle is focused on interaction, Crowdtangle only has a limited set of certain pages and accounts.We are creating a report that provides a broad and represents … an accurate representation of what people’s experiences actually are on our platform.”

In the past three months, 57 percent of posts users viewed on Facebook came from posts shared by friends, groups and pages users were connected to, according to the new widely viewed content report. 

The report also states that an overwhelming 87 percent of viewed content during that time period did not include a link to a source outside of Facebook. 

On posts with a link, the most popular was for YouTube, followed by Amazon. A handful of news outlets, led by ABC News in the 10th spot, were included in the top 20 domains, but collectively news domains accounted for only about 0.3 percent of all new feed content views during the second quarter of the year, according to the report. 

The report, however, is still missing out on including data about posts users are seeing through private pages. Rosen said posts shared privately is a “highly sensitive” area.

“There is a tension here between the ability to share content and information that is public and making sure that we are respecting what’s happening privately between people,” he said. 

The update on how Facebook shares information about its views comes as the company faces greater scrutiny over its handling of hate speech and misinformation. 

The update also comes just a couple of weeks after Facebook said it would suspend the accounts of NYU researchers who created a tool to analyze political ads and the spread of misinformation on the platform. Facebook faced pushback on the suspensions, including from a group of Democratic senators who sent a letter urging the platform to reverse its decision. 

Facebook argued the researchers’ tool posed data security risks, and during Wednesday’s call the company indicated it would be standing its ground on the decision. 

“To be clear it wasn’t the path any of us preferred here. The technology does create privacy risks, which as a company we have to prioritize,” Rosen said. 

Along with the new widely viewed content data report, Facebook released its quarterly community standards enforcement report and data on COVID-19 misinformation. 

Facebook said it has removed more than 20 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram for violating its COVID-19 misinformation policies and removed more than 3,000 accounts, pages and groups for repeatedly violating rules against spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation.

Tags COVID-19 misinformation Facebook misinformation

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