Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday that the company has already begun to implement a system that ranks news organizations based on trustworthiness, and promotes or suppresses its content based on that metric.
Zuckerberg said the company has gathered data on how consumers perceive news brands by asking them to identify whether they have heard of various publications and if they trust them.
“We put [that data] into the system, and it is acting as a boost or a suppression, and we’re going to dial up the intensity of that over time,” he said. “We feel like we have a responsibility to further [break] down polarization and find common ground.”
Zuckerberg met with a group of news media executives at the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel in Menlo Park after delivering his keynote speech at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference Tuesday.
The meeting included representatives from BuzzFeed News, the Information, Quartz, the New York Times, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, NBC, Recode, Univision, Barron’s, the Daily Beast, the Economist, HuffPost, Insider, the Atlantic, the New York Post, and others.
The event, called “OTR” (shorthand for “off the record”), is an annual gathering meant for new media news executives to talk shop. It is in its second year. Zuckerberg’s remarks were initially meant to be, like the name of the conference, off the record, but he agreed to answer questions on the record.
Zuckerberg said the company will invest “billions” of dollars in a combination of artificial intelligence and tens of thousands of human moderators to keep both fake news and deliberate propaganda at bay, especially in elections.
“We’re essentially going to be losing money on doing political ads,” he said of the investment the company is making to avoid a repeat of the spread of Russian propaganda in the 2016 US election.
“The big miss is we didn’t expect these kind of coordinated information operations” in 2016, said Zuckerberg, and that the company was more focused on hacking in malware. He said the company is expecting that kind of information war now and has already successfully countered it in elections from France to Alabama.
“We deployed AI tools that have taken down tens of thousands of accounts,” he said of those elections.
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