"We're At The Mercy Of The Algos"; More News Sites Say Facebook's 'Fake News' Filter Is Killing Traffic

Tyler Durden's picture

Yesterday we highlighted an article written by the Chicago Tribune's Deputy Editor for Digital News, Kurt Gessler, which provided a fairly compelling set of facts to suggest that Facebook's 'fake news' filter was suppressing the distribution of articles from media sources which undoubtedly consider themselves "legitimate new outlets" (with the definition of 'legitimate' left solely to the discretion of Facebook execs, of course).

As it turns out, the Chicago Tribune was not alone as Gessler's article prompted a whole host of digital publishers to come forward with similar stories of traffic destruction.  Per Digiday:

Facebook’s news feed algorithm changes have been part of publishing reality for many years. But to Matt Karolian, director of audience engagement at The Boston Globe, “last month was probably the worst we’ve had in reach in about a year. The fact everyone else is seeing it is a little bit troubling.”


Aysha Khan said Facebook reach has also been sliding at the Religion News Service, where she’s social media editor.


“Reach spiked in the summer, and we started hitting 15, 25K reach on bigger posts that were polarizing,” Khan said. “It wasn’t just political posts, but any kind of interviews. Anything that had potential to get a big reaction got a big reaction. But then we noticed that kind of stopped, and by January, it was just gone. Now we’re worse off than we were to start with.”


The change has happened even as RNS has been doing more video, including live video, and photos, things that Facebook has encouraged. Khan said RNS is still trying, though, with plans for more regularly scheduled live video and videos generally.

Meanwhile, Vocativ...


and Chicago Magazine also corroborated the Tribune's data.


“In my mind, we’re kind of at the mercy of the algorithm,” Khan said. “But there’s a lot of stories that are getting underwhelming responses that readers can’t even see.

Of course, we would argue that any business model which relies on Facebook for distribution is fundamentally flawed.  That said, we have to admit that the irony of Facebook's 'fake news' crusade ensnaring some of the nation's most recognizable, elitist mainstream media outlets is, to the say the least, humorous. 

* * *

For those who missed our original post on the topic, see below:

Back in December we wrote about the efforts of Facebook to combat the spread of "fake news" over social media with the introduction of a filter intended to flag 'fake' content so that users wouldn't haven't to go through the hassle of critically analyzing information on their own.  As we noted at the time, it was a genius plan, except for one small issue:  who determines what is considered "fake news" and how exactly do they draw those conclusions?  From our prior post (see "Facebook Launches Campaign To Combat "Fake News""):

The first problem, however, immediately emerges because as NBC notes, "legitimate news outlets won't be able to be flagged", which then begs the question who or what is considered "legitimate news outlets", does it include the likes of NYTs and the WaPos, which during the runup to the election declared on a daily basis, that Trump has no chance of winning, which have since posted defamatory stories about so-called "Russian propaganda news sites", admitting subsequently that their source data was incorrect, and which many consider to be the source of "fake news".


Also, just who makes the determination what is considered "legitimate news outlets."

Now, it seems as though the first confirmed victim of Facebook's 'fake news' crusade may be none other than the Chicago Tribune, a newspaper that undoubtedly considers itself a "legitimate news outlet."

The discovery was highlighted in an article written by the Chicago Tribune's own Deputy Editor for Digital News, Kurt Gessler, who noted that a curious thing happened back in December when Facebook first changed up its algorithms to target fake news, namely their traffic crashed.  Per the chart below, the typical Tribune post went from attracting the interest of 30-35k people down to 15-20k people in a matter of months.


Meanwhile, the number of Tribune articles shared over Facebook that reached less than 10,000 viewers (i.e. the "duds") skyrocketed while the number of highly successful articles, those reaching 50,000+ people, simultaneously plunged.


So, either the Chicago Tribune suddenly started producing a lot of garbage that no one wanted to read, which just happened to coincide with the implementation of Facebook's new "fake news" algo, or the media outlet was pumping out content that Facebook suddenly figured to fit the definition of 'fake'.

Certainly, the issue couldn't be attributed to a loss of followers....

...or less content creation.


Perhaps Facebook's algos are better at identifying "fake news" than we thought.

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localsavage's picture

If you are getting your news from Facebook, you already lost.

wee-weed up's picture

Kill the Facefuck goal of the Hive-Mind!

flaminratzazz's picture

Just pay the fvkin kike pos so he will put you in the "good" section.. cant anyone see where this is going?

Donald Trump's picture
Donald Trump (not verified) flaminratzazz Apr 20, 2017 9:30 PM

Create quality content MSM bitchez!

Stop crying for your FB ad budget... is was meant to be just $ down the drain anyway. When kikes won't tax you, the GOV will.

Bill Would End Online Porn as We Know It, Unless You Pay the Gov’t


hedgeless_horseman's picture


Also, just who makes the determination what is considered "legitimate news outlets."

It is all coming together at one time and place, Marfa, June 2017.

The First Zerohedge Symposium and Live Fight Club in Marfa, Texas, June 16-18. 



Media: Robert Gore, Breaking alternative media's dependency on the MSM






What else are you doing that weekend that is this important?

Take the time.

Make the drive.

We must disintermediate The Fourth Estate. 



BetterRalph's picture

Facebook should be in your squid blacklist

hedgeless_horseman's picture


No black list.

Make the drive, make the meetings.

No badges, no registration, no fee.

Very good music on Saturday night. 

Thanks for donating, Ryan Ward!!!

We could still use another grand.


ThaBigPerm's picture

Drudge was right - it's an internet ghetto.  Don't be surprised when they feed you crack and tell you "that's just the way it is..."

hedgeless_horseman's picture


Perm, you have been posting top-shelf comments for years.

Thank you!

Hope you make it to Marfa.

ThaBigPerm's picture

Or the FEMA camps.  I'd consider either an honor....

ThaBigPerm's picture

OK, Marfa is close to Big Bend - a place I intend to visit for astro-photography, so more likely than not :D

flaminratzazz's picture

nice to see you back BP.. was wonderin if you fell off the  face of the moon?

ArkansasAngie's picture

I have seen our numbers drop on my organization's FB.  I came up with a different answer ...  FB's numbers are down.  

I think ... I know ... fewer people are using FB in our little piece of the world.

Frst FB lost the kids.  They are now losing the grandmas.

The problem is ... from a marketing perspective ... how do you reach target markets when print is dead ... FB is dying ... nobody trusts any of the media to be unbiased. 


TwelveOhOne's picture

In case there are people here who don't know, this is the latest in a long line of accounts hosted by the "Xythras" team at dailywesterner dot com.  This is an unpaid advertisement and is abuse of the site.  Over on the right, if you expand "Contact Information", you will see "Abuse/Complaints: abuse [ at ] zerohedge.com".

Emailing them works.  Xythras is gone, as are three or four of the accounts that posted these links after it.  The account "Donald Trump" seems to have legs, as it's been here more than a week.  Email abuse@zerohedge.com and let them know, if you disapprove of this sort of unpaid advertising.

Often the links Xythras' team posts have nothing to do with the story.  They're trying for the "one weird trick!" type of click-bait and it is completely unwelcome as part of my inputs.  Hence, this output from me.

Chuck Walla's picture

Well, to be fair, the Tribune is kinda fake news. They never, ever criticize Rahm "Nine-Fingers" Emanual and the murder rate. Or how the place is so poorly managed.

in4mayshun's picture

Proud to say I've never used it....ever.

besnook's picture

is facebook shooting itself in the foot by exposing that a lot traffic to so called mainstream news sites is fake, the purpose of which is too increase the sites' "importance" as a meme creator.

lead salad's picture

Fuxbook.......screw 'em.

Bigly's picture

Please...please close your accounts to this bullshit company. And twitter.  Why haven't you already? Huh? Do it!!!

Go to gab.ai if you must faux tweet....they will not censor

max_leering's picture

who in the fuck goes to fakebook for their news?... only fucking retards, that's it

Suckerburg can blow me

HRH Feant's picture
HRH Feant (not verified) Apr 20, 2017 9:47 PM

I use Duck Duck Go for my search engine. I think I stumbled into this shit earlier today.

I like Alex Jones and am a fan of Infowars. I heard the scuttlebutt about his divorce and was shocked to hear he had already remarried and the baby is due this week. I was even more surprised to hear that he had custody of his children and the reason for a two-week trial is because the mother wants custody. This information was in the Austin paper yesterday, btw.

WTF? I did a search for wedding photos and Alex Jones recent marriage and found a female presenter in the UK that was married last year. Apparently Alex Jones (the UK female presenter) wife was impregnated. Plenty of gossip about that.

Nothing about the US Alex Jones. Isn't that a little weird? No wedding photos, nothing about the birth of the new baby. Utter silence. I actually read every article and at the end it said "no further links." WTF? No further links? How the fuck do you completely erase your life from the Internet? Or get your life mixed up with someone with the same name in the UK that is a female?

If I were into conspiracy theories I might be willing to dig a little deeper. For now this is a WTF moment.

Went back to the Statesman for today's trial wrap up: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/opinion/herman-alex-jones-often-offensiv...

Bigly's picture

He seems to like jewesses.

Erika Wulff.

Escort???!..yeah, really?  This must be a fake persona. Nobody is that stupid, are they?  Why would you leave your wife for a 'yoga instructor'???

HRH Feant's picture
HRH Feant (not verified) Bigly Apr 21, 2017 12:55 AM

I just wanted photos! I don't give a crap who somone fucks. That is personal.

I have to say I respect Jones for keeping is personal life, private.

I am also a big fan of prenuptial agreements: for both men and women. I will never get married again without a prenup. I just won't. Saves a lot of heartache.

The thing that bugs me about Kelly Jones is she got $3.5 million and gets alimony of $43K a month and isn't happy. If you can't make a bitch happy with that much coin nothing is going to make her happy. What does she want? Blood?

It seems like this woman, like many others, has been sucked dry by attorneys. Too bad for her. She will end up broke, hated by her kids, and alone. Sad story.

MedicalQuack's picture

That's how error bars and false positives work!  Another example, MasterCard algos turn down $130 Billion in legit charges to catch an actual $9 Billion in fraud. 

economessed's picture

As bad as the Facebook stats look for actual usefulness, LinkedIn has become 1,000 times worse -- if that platform was about helping people in business to connect, Microsoft has totally ruined it.  

DEMIZEN's picture

i had to delete my linkedin. Not a single usefull business connection that made a difference in my anual report came out of it. Bunch of fucks desperate for promotion they dont deserve, with pimped up titles, publishing their worthless shit.  Fucking masters in janitorial sciences. you have to be kidding me. Phd in security and theft prevention sciences? Fucking retards.

SilvaDolla's picture

The goal of social media is to charge a premium in order to make those connections.

DEMIZEN's picture

Facebook is garbage. I do have an account, so people dont harras me with their vacation photos, can always say ill check it on the facebook.

VWAndy's picture

It will be fun watching FB self combusting. As soon as a replacement shows up. Poof.

  I wonder if we could put something together?

SilvaDolla's picture

Just got in the queue for an invite to start a profile.

whatamaroon's picture

So my internet provider is ATT. I have no control on who they pay for their 'services'. ATT must siphon off some of their fees to Fuckbook twatter et. al. We can cut cable to deny the MSM our money, but how do we cut internet fees?

Bunga Bunga's picture

Algos are smarter than humans, they detect propaganda quickly.

SilvaDolla's picture

Bwahahaha! Facebook's Algos are just pissing on the corpse of their host by this point.

Vlad the Inhaler's picture

Only one solution - Delete your FB account.  Every time you go there to see some baby or cat photos you are helping Zuckerberg rack up the billions of dollars, extend spying powers, and censor real news.  

Giant Meteor's picture

It's an interesting thing no? I mean don't get me wrong, I like bravado and rugged individualism as much as the next guy, and hell, being skeered is optional. Aside from these "insider warnings" those with eyes, ears, a bit of critical thinking skills, with enough capacity left to them, understand things are terribly, terribly wrong. Most all things twisted, sideways .. upside down , downside up. It appears certainly with certainty there is not, nor will be, let up as far as I can tell .

I note generally the disinterest, disgust, apathy, a worn out and worn down people, mesmerized at times by circus, divided, convinced, agnostic, atheist, religionist's thus conquered, ripe for the shorning party.

No mercy.

Being a fan of "gallows humor", I have no problem with it at all, as it functions as a built in "pressure relief valve" of sorts. Whether one wishes to call it a crack up boom, bust, fairytale, reset, doom porn, inneuendo, insiders dealing their book, or lack of book, there is no question that something wicked this way comes ...

Call it anything one may wish, or nothing at all. It does not change one iota what is plain to see, hear, touch and feel, what is right in plain view, and at the same time, still hidden much from amongst the noise  ..

Perhaps that is the creative, and imagined brilliance of it, some call it evil, other's a good day 

A deafening Sound and fury, signifying everything, and meaning little more .. the end, my friend.

The signal in 2008 was given, and in many many ways, and despite all the government lies, boning, jaw boning, parlor tricks, statistics and political kabuki, much of the public remain on raw edge. Significantly worn down, not knowing what to make of any of it, or perhaps caring little, whatever comes this way. With fiery certainty, each day counted, and turns by degrees.

If it doesn't possess all the rights shade and tones of epic Greek tragedy, on this GLOBAL stage, nothing else does, nor ever did.

And as many are, including myself, sometimes comforted by bravado, braggadocio and pride, it is well to remember and to pause and reflect in earnest the magician tricks and sleights of hand ..

Robert Bernard, High Finance, published, April 19th, 2017 (Dutch, translated with subtitles)

You won't ever see this on Facebook ... and guaranteed to hold your attention ..

GoldenDonuts's picture

Apparently Fakebook's algos are working perfectly If mainstream news organizations are noticing that their "news" is being curtailed.  Who knows the press might actually start to understand the first ammendment.  Maybe even support it.

VWAndy's picture

 A thought about Fake News.

  After you imply in any way that truth is a subective thing you have just admitted you are also FOS and cannot be taken as having an honest opinion about anything. Also that you will not be hearing a dang thing others say.

  Thats the trigger!  Turnning on our dogma filtering. Confronting that sends many into glassy eye mode.

January Jones's picture

Unless I'm mistaken, Facebook and algos are still unable to suppress the smell of bullshit or short circuit critical thinking.

If a billlion dollars, The Washington Post, the NY Times and the rest of the MSM couldn't put Hillary in the white house, we'll be just fine. 

Fuck Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The smoulding rage of "Deplorables" will not be extinguished by political correctness or propaganda.

Catullus's picture

They're disposing of their competition. A medium for sharing filters other online media. You're not partnering with Facebook, you're giving them free content so no one leaves their site.

This is what newspaper suicide looks like

It's like an RSS reader that filters all of your good articles. You wouldn't even know

lakecity55's picture

Facebook Live joins LaQuan and Billy Bob in progress:

"Ah'm think'n bout yer boy Obamer rite now while Ah'm takin' a dump!"
"Mofo! See deese eyes skwintin? Ize thinkin' bout Trump! Trump a Dump!"
"Haw Haw, look a chere! Lookit the size of mah Obamer!"
"GTFO, crackah! Lookit dis Trump!"


Gohigher's picture

Facebook Live joins Ali and Khalilah in progress:

A: no we cannot get out of this ISIS crossfire, they are shooting us in the back! Shit, you will need to go west of the market with our children !
K: no, no ALi, we must get to the Government corridor or we will be killed! We must flee this rebel hell and get the kids to safety. I am heading west, now....
A: allah, give us strength to run like hell!
K: I pray American Mothers would see our reality of shock and awe from all this democracy.

REALITY CHECK, farcebook loser.

Back in Murica':
Dude the newsfeed is showing those damn gassed kids again...
NAW, fuck it..... Mah member is as big as your Trump. Sending you a selfie right now, bitch, but mah arm isn't long enough. Hold on, my frappachino is ready so I am changing my status to :caffinated.....


Dickweed Wang's picture

. . . so that users wouldn't haven't to go through the hassle of critically analyzing information on their own.


Basically what this is saying is the internet monopolies like Fuckbook and Gaggle don't want people doing any critical thinking.  Well I guess they don't have anything to really worry about as 90% of the population has no critical thinking skills to begin with . . . they sure don't teach that stuff in public schools or in universities these days.

Brazen Heist's picture

Who the fuck gets their news from Facebook? Oh, quite alot of idiots actually.

quasi_verbatim's picture

Could someone prise the Donald's fingers off Twitter? He's legitimising birdbrainery.

Last of the Middle Class's picture

Ahh, if only O'Reilly had written one more book "Killing Facebook"! Zuckerberg is killing his own brand in an effort to maintain, at all costs, his own person agenda. It's the new politically correct thing to do amongst billionaires. Well, that and sucking as many billions as possible from the government for the new Tesla or a trip to Mars like Elon does. You can't log onto FB without seeing a picture of someones frigging cat. Its damn sure a social network as long as you don't interact socially about your hopes and concerns for society.