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This Is Facebook's News Survey

Two straightforward questions with big implications for news publishers.

Posted on January 23, 2018, at 5:16 p.m. ET

Last week, Facebook said its News Feed would prioritize links from publications its users deemed "trustworthy" in an upcoming survey. Turns out that survey isn't a particularly lengthy or nuanced one. In fact, it's just two questions.

Here is Facebook's survey — in its entirety:

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

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed this as the only version of the survey in use. They also confirmed that the questions were prepared by the company itself and not by an outside party.

Facebook is overhauling its News Feed amid ongoing criticism of its platform, which has come under fire for enabling foreign manipulation of US elections, giving rise to fake news, and making people feel bad. This latest effort to mitigate such concerns — by determining whether or not a publication is trustworthy via a survey — has also been met with harsh questions. Top among them is whether it's wise for Facebook to entrust decisions about news trustworthiness to a user base that has already widely spread fake news and Kremlin-linked propaganda intended to disrupt a US presidential election.

In a Facebook post last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained how the survey data would be used:

Here's how this will work. As part of our ongoing quality surveys, we will now ask people whether they're familiar with a news source and, if so, whether they trust that source. The idea is that some news organizations are only trusted by their readers or watchers, and others are broadly trusted across society even by those who don't follow them directly. (We eliminate from the sample those who aren't familiar with a source, so the output is a ratio of those who trust the source to those who are familiar with it.)

This update will not change the amount of news you see on Facebook. It will only shift the balance of news you see towards sources that are determined to be trusted by the community.

The survey contains two short, simple questions. But the responses from Facebook's users could matter a great deal for the many publications relying on traffic from the platform to help sustain their businesses.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.