Facebook has been intentionally vague about their algorithm since the beginning. What do they promote? What gets buried? If you’re a publisher, it can feel like your entire social media load is figuring out how to trick platforms into showing your audience what you post. In a rare moment of transparency, Facebook ‘s new Content Distribution Guidelines have been published to help shed some light on how they’re distributing content.

Just to be clear, this is not about Community Standards. Some things are not allowed on the platform. Violent content, exploitation, hate speech, spamming, plagiarism, etc are all a no go.

What are Content Distribution Guidelines?

Content Distribution Guidelines exist to add clarity to content prioritization. What content receives reduced distribution on News Feed because it’s problematic or low quality?

According to the guidelines, there are three main reasons content can be demoted by Facebook:

  • Responding to People’s Direct Feedback. We’re always eager to receive people’s feedback about what they do and don’t like seeing on Facebook and make changes to News Feed in response. This means that if you are sending people to an ad farm, serving click bait, or spamming your audience, you’re going to get in trouble.

  • Incentivizing Creators to Invest in High-Quality and Accurate Content. We want people to have interesting, new material to engage with in the long term, so we create incentives that encourage the creation of this type of content. This is going to be your fake news, copied articles, and inaccurate presentation.

  • Fostering a Safer Community. Some content may be problematic for our community, whether or not it’s intended that way. We make this content difficult to encounter for people who aren’t actively trying to see it. This can be content that is borderline in violation of Community Standards, unsafe reporting, and content posted by people who consistently violate policies.

How do Facebook’s new Content Distribution Guidelines impact your newsroom?

Most of this is pretty simple. But let’s start at the beginning. Let’s apply those guidelines to what you’re doing every day.

Your content should be high quality

Don’t post junk. Your website, video, and text content is all ranked and if you are offering a poor experience, users will report it, bounce, or otherwise let Facebook know that you are not providing a positive experience.

In short, watch your ad ratio, don’t post low-quality content, and don’t post

Your content should be accurate and unique

This doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. However, do your best to be transparent about your sources, provide clear bylines, and thoroughly fact check your information. Additionally, unique content rules apply to more than just avoiding plagiarism. This includes all of the following:

Your content should be safe and in line with community standards

Facebook tries to keep their community safe from shocking content, misinformation about suicide and content that violates (or comes close to violating) community standards. and links to shocking content. Make sure that your content does not get too graphic. You have a responsibility to keep your content safe to protect your audience.