Instead of Taking Editorial Responsibility, Facebook Is Just Using Random People in a Survey as Scapegoats

Facebook is overhauling their algorithms to better serve the companies that pay them the most in advertising. They have masked it as a user experience problem, but it is a much larger problem of a platform creating wealth through disparity.

The big problem with Facebook News and their idea to survey random people to find out which news service is credible is that people will vote on the most well-known publishers. These companies are also the ones that advertise the most on Facebook like the New York Times.

In connection with the recent changes at Facebook, The New York Times stock has been climbing since the news was first reported.

BuzzFeed has released the current survey questions:

Do you recognize the following websites

  • Yes
  • No

How much do you trust each of these domains?

  • Entirely
  • A lot
  • Somewhat
  • Barely
  • Not at all

This survey provides little insight on the person being asked the questions and their point of view. It does not inform the company of their demographic, political stance, or ability to find news outside of Facebook. It does not use a 1-10 scale like I have seen in more professional surveys. Overall, it looks like a company trying to avoid responsibility for the content they release on their platform.

This is a big reason that people are trusting journalists more than platforms. Watch over the following YouTube video featuring the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer via CBS News to learn more about this subject.

Hypothetically, if I were to make a survey to acquire more trust for our platform, I would use the following questions:

Q. On a scale 1-10, how much do you currently trust our news organization/platform?  

A. 1-10

Q. Based on user experience and retractions ran by a news organization, which news outlet do you trust the least?


Q. Based on feedback and your personal opinion, which news outlet produces the most unbiased form of news?


Those would be just the first three questions I would ask readers. I would most likely run 10-20 questions overall.

During my time in graduate school, one of my professors had an entire class of students studying media perform an experiment. The experiment was to take a group of media outlets, consume their news content for a several months, and than vote on which outlet was the least bias organization. These were the following outlets in order of unbiased reporting based on votes:

  1. NPR
  2. The New York Times
  3. Al Jazeera
  4. Fox News
  5. USA Today

Do you see the effort and time that my professor went through just to establish which news outlet was the most credible? Now compare that to the Facebook survey above. Do you see a big difference in the quality of data gathering? I do. And it bothers me. It should bother all the users on Facebook as well.

Watch over a recent video published by Facebook on YouTube covering the way they plan to address fake news on their platform.