Scrolling through your Facebook News Feed? There could be thousands of stories there, but you'll likely only read about 10 percent of them on any given day.
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That's according to News Feed product vice president Adam Mosseri, who acknowledged that the social network has made blunders recently with banning content in its News Feed and promoting fake trending news stories.
Speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco today, Mosseri outlined Facebook's plans to provide a platform for media companies while also promoting the kinds of status posts and photo uploads that he described as central to Facebook's mission.
The main challenge is prioritization: the News Feeds of average users contain 2,000 stories, but only about 200 of them get read. Publishers want most of those 200 to be commercial stories, and there are more publishers posting content more frequently than ever before, Mosseri said. But Facebook wants to display content that he referred to as "meaningful."
"We try to make sure that the time people spend in News Feed reading stories is time they feel good about," he said. That means content that a user's friend posts or shares will be more likely to show up in his or her feed than a news article from a media outlet, although Mosseri stressed that "publishers play a very important part in the ecosystem."
Facebook's attempts to police that ecosystem are occasionally marred by hiccups, including the recent removal of an iconic photograph from the Vietnam War and hoax news stories showing up in the trending topics section.
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Mosseri said those mistakes would have happened even with the human editors that Facebook recently dismissed amid some controversy, since trending stories are determined by computer algorithms. He also explained that the banned Vietnam War photograph, which Facebook eventually reinstated, shows that the company is willing to circumvent its prohibition of objectionable content if it is deemed historic or iconic.
But wielding the power to decide what news stories are banned or promoted does not make Facebook a media company, Mosseri said.
"We think of ourselves as a technology company," he said. "We know we play a meaningful role in media," but "our responsibility is to make sure we're a platform for all ideas. We're not in the business of deciding which ideas people should read about."