By November 2014, Mark Zuckerberg was feeling pretty confident in Facebook’s capacity to deliver the latest news, enough so that he likened Facebook’s aim, incredibly, to that of a newspaper’s. “Our goal is to build the perfect personalized newspaper for every person in the world,” he said. “We’re trying to personalize it and show you the stuff that’s going to be most interesting to you.”
To build this “perfect personalized newspaper,” Facebook had to make the News Feed as interesting and relevant to people as possible. And to do that, it engaged in a number of quality-improving measures, including surveying its users on what they found valuable, and optimizing for time spent reading stories after a click from the Facebook News Feed, in addition to measuring traditional metrics like the number of shares and likes.
These moves were well-intentioned but fundamentally flawed. You’re unlikely to spend much time reading and interacting with material you disagree with. As another former Facebook employee told BuzzFeed News, “Even though they could show you stories that you disagree with, they’ll probably not because chances are you’ll spend more time on Facebook if you are seeing stuff you agree with and that you like.”
Fake news sites just out for a profit, and fringe websites trafficking in propaganda, both benefitted enormously. And a Facebook now outfitted with the mechanisms to make stories rapidly propagate turbocharged their rise. (Source)