Facebook claims most people see posts with higher engagement, not just the political content

Most of the content that Facebook users consume on the social network is not related to political content, says Facebook’s VP Analytics Alex Schultz. He further added, based on their research, political material is 6% of what people encounter on Facebook. This involves posts shared by friends or websites.

Schultz also claims that journalists exploit analytics tool CrowdTangle owned by Facebook. This tool recognizes the post from the pages that generate greater attention (reactions, feedback, and shares). This tool was designed to represent what’s common on Facebook. He says it’s not really an accurate reflection of what’s being usually seen by users.

This tool has been developed to get some idea of what content generally gain likes, comments, and re-shares.

Alternatively, Schultz suggests that “reach” – the post that appears in front of a vast number of users – is a more reliable indicator of what people are more usually interested to see. Even though CrowdTangle does not disclose this data and Facebook does not normally make it accessible to reporters, he posted some of the statistics on the top-performing Facebook pages by reach on the week before the election.

Among the many high pages by reach include The Dodo; cute animal videos provider, magician Rick Lax, Steve Harvey; the Family Feud host, and AARP. Besides that, the top publisher sites by reach during the similar week were cnn.com, foxnews.com, nbcnews.com, washingtonpost.com, and nytimes.com.

All of this may sound like a lot of hair-splitting: a higher “reach” or higher “engagement” is not an area of interest for most of the users. But for Facebook, it’s an extremely important deviation. The corporate has been accused of not doing enough to combat polarization, despite the analysis that its algorithms exploit "divisiveness.” And the posts rated by CrowdTangle, which tracks “engagement”, frequently represent more disruptive content than conventional news and mostly — wholesome pages mentioned by Facebook as having the most "reach." On the other hand, the reason why CrowdTangle is used by reporters and analysts is that it is one of those ways in which outsiders can gain insight into how content spreads across the social network. And CrowdTangle doesn't offer a little insight into Facebook's "reach" metric now says it's a better measure of its network. And, as the New York Times report mentions that it’s hard to catch which pages and publications are getting the most attention, until Facebook begins to make this knowledge more easily accessible.

About election-related content 2020, we will be able to know a little more. Schultz unveils Facebook's plans to partner with outside researchers to investigate "what happened on Facebook during this election cycle," with study papers on the subject due some time in 2021.



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