As Facebook continues to grapple with tough questions around what should and should not be allowed on its platforms, its new Content Oversight Board, which will help relieve some of the pressure on Zuck and Co. around such rulings, is still working through its initial training and onboarding phase, which has been slowed slightly by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the Oversight Board is watching over the current situation:
“The events in the United States have been deeply painful to watch for all our Members. As an organization with a global scope and focus on free expression and human rights, we recognize that many communities around the world are confronting other crises at this moment, but it is impossible to ignore what is happening on the streets of US cities.”
Eventually, the Oversight Board, which is made up of a range of experts in various fields, including civil rights, constitutional law and politics, will help Facebook determine the best way forward on its content rulings, which will include those relating to content posted by political leaders.
But while Facebook could use that additional insight right now, it’s not ready yet.
‘We are not in an immediate position to make decisions on issues like those we see unfolding today,’ the board says, but:
“When the Board goes operational, we will not shy away from tough decisions and intend to act without consideration of Facebook’s economic, political or reputational interests. We are not here to defend Facebook and will be transparent in the decisions we make and the changes we call on the company to make to protect free expression, users and society.”
As present, the Board is going through the final stages of training, which includes instructions on the new Case Management Tool that Facebook has created to facilitate the Board’s work. The Board expects to be up and running by the end of this year – which could mean that it will be in place in time for the US Election, and the various rulings that will likely be required in the election campaign.
It could end up providing a significant boost to Facebook’s efforts in this respect – and it may well be that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is currently deferring any significant changes in its existing policies on such until the Board is operational.
But then again, Facebook will always have the capacity to overule the Board’s decisions.
As the Board notes:
“The Oversight Board was created to make binding and independent decisions on the most challenging content issues on Facebook and Instagram. As such, how Facebook treats posts from public figures that may violate their community standards are within the scope of the Board, and are the type of highly challenging cases that the Board expects to consider when we begin operating in the coming months.”
But as has been also explained previously:
“Facebook is committed to implementing the board’s decision on individual pieces of content within seven days, as outlined in the bylaws. Facebook will also assess the technical and operational feasibility of applying the decision to identical content with parallel context. When the board provides an additional policy recommendation, Facebook will review that guidance.”
So Facebook is only committing to action on individual posts, it won’t necessarily have to implement any policy changes as the Board advises.
Still, it will add an extra check to Facebook’s process, and could end up being a significant difference-maker in issues like those the platform is currently facing.
We’ll have to wait and see how that relationship works in practice, but for those calling for change, it may still be coming – even if Zuckerberg himself is standing firm on his position.
Google’s Latest Core Search Update is Rolling Out from Today
Digital content managers and webmasters, best to keep an eye on your Google rankings over the next few weeks.
Today, Google has confirmed that it’s rolling out a new Core update for Search, which will change the way some sites are listed in Search results pages.
Today, we’re releasing a broad core update, as we do several times per year. This update is called the May 2022 core update. Learn more: https://t.co/7kFklwdkAb
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) May 25, 2022
So what’s changing? Helpfully, Google never explains exactly what’s being updated, which is a measure designed to stop users trying to scam the system.
Google does, however, offer this generic overview of what’s happening:
“Several times per year, we make substantial improvements to our overall ranking processes, which we refer to as core updates. Core updates are changes we make to improve Search overall and keep pace with the changing nature of the web. While nothing in a core update is specific to any particular site, these updates may produce some noticeable changes to how sites perform.”
Indeed, Google further explains that:
“There’s nothing wrong with pages that may perform less well in a core update. They haven’t violated our webmaster guidelines nor been subjected to a manual or algorithmic action, as can happen to pages that do violate those guidelines. In fact, there’s nothing in a core update that targets specific pages or sites. Instead, the changes are about improving how our systems assess content overall. These changes may cause some pages that were previously under-rewarded to do better.”
In other words, you haven’t done anything wrong, but your SEO performance could take a hit anyway, and you’ll just have to deal with it – and maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll actually see an uptick in Search referrals because of something Google has changed.
Though you won’t know what it is, exactly, nor how to capitalize on it.
Such is the mystery of the Big G, giving and taking valuable web traffic with the winds of change, via every core update.
As noted by Search Engine Journal, the last Google Core update was in November, so you’ve had a good six months to get used to things as they are. Now they’re going to change again.
So what’s the point of me even telling you? Nothing, you can’t do anything about it anyway – but if you do notice a change in your rankings, you can point to the latest core update from Google and make it look like you know what’s happening to those less web literate.
‘Google’s putting a bigger focus on quality content, which is why we’ve seen an increase in traffic.’
That’s both vague and knowledgeable-sounding enough to get you through, while it’s also not incorrect, if anyone were to try and catch you out.
Google says that the full impacts of the May 2022 core update will take a couple of weeks to fully roll out.
If you’re looking for more insight on what’s changed, this forum thread will track responses to the update.
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