Does Facebook's new quarterly report actually list popular content?
Facebook's latest attempt to prove that its algorithms aren't completely opaque is a quarterly report called "Widely Viewed Content Reports," or so it would like us to believe. The report will feature the top viewed News Feed posts in the US every three months. However, reports suggest that this is Facebook's move taking a dig at New York Times reporter Kevin Roose. Here's more.
Facebook tries to distance itself from rampant right-wing content
Since the Capitol Hill riots brought attention to pro-Trump mobs openly discussing on Facebook, it has tried to distance itself from right-wing content. However, Roose takes to Twitter every 24 hours, highlighting who authored the top ten most engaging posts on Facebook. Roose takes his data from Facebook-owned social monitoring tool CrowdTangle and more often than not, chart-toppers are far-right personalities.
Roose's latest list of top post authors ranked by engagement
The top-performing link posts by U.S. Facebook pages in the last 24 hours are from:— Facebook's Top 10 (@FacebooksTop10) August 18, 2021
1. Ben Shapiro
2. Journal Star
4. Nick Adams
6. Ben Shapiro
7. Donald Trump For President
8. News And Guts
9. Love Meow
10. Love Meow
Content that's seen more may not get more engagement: Facebook
Facebook argues that reach data that measures how many people saw a post is a more accurate representation of top-performing content compared to Roose's engagement data that measures how many people interacted (liked, commented, reacted, shared, saved, or clicked links) with a post. Facebook said, "The content that's seen by the most people isn't necessarily the content that also gets the most engagement."
Is the views-per-post metric really painting Facebook's complete picture?
Interestingly, it is a known fact that Facebook's algorithms control which posts are seen more but people themselves control which posts they engage with. In fact, Facebook and its subsidiaries wantonly curb free accounts' reach (and hence engagement) to market their paid content promotion services.
YouTube links were seen the most in popular posts
Facebook's new transparency-centric report reliant on cherry-picked data claims that 87% of the posts that Americans viewed during this year's second quarter didn't include any outside link. According to Facebook, most viewed content hosted on external domains belonged to YouTube (viewed 181.3 million times). Amazon, Gofundme, Spotify, TikTok, and Twitter also make it to the top ten of this list.
Well, at least Facebook took initiative to share some data
Weirdly, Facebook's list of top viewed links is topped by a website for alumni of the Green Bay Packers football team. Others in the top ten include a CBD marketplace, reppnforchrist.com (a website selling Christianity-themed tees), and Epoch Times, a news outlet known for spreading pro-Trump conspiracies. Facebook's data presentation seems to favor the platform. However, some official data is better than none.