Facebook first transparency report highlights popular posts in US, reports decline in hate speech

The most shared posts were about putting sugar in spaghetti and names for your genitals.
The most shared posts were about putting sugar in spaghetti and names for your genitals. Photo credit: Getty Images

Facebook has released its tenth quarterly Community Standards Enforcement Report (CSER) and, for the first time, included an additional report on news feed transparency.

According to the company, the goal of the 'Widely Viewed Content Report: What People See on Facebook' is "to provide clarity around what people see in their Facebook News Feed, the different content types that appear in their Feed and the most-viewed domains." 

Unfortunately the transparency only covers content from the United States so Kiwis are only able to draw inferences from the broad trends rather than specific pieces of content.

That includes data showing posts with the most viewers only made up a tiny proportion of overall content views - just 0.1 percent.

And, perhaps surprisingly given long term anecdotal complaints about timeline relevance, most content views "came from posts shared by the friends, Groups and Pages people were connected to," the company said.

"In fact, only about 9.5 percent of all News Feed content views in the US during Q2 2021 came from content that was not shared by Groups people joined, friends or Pages people follow."

The top 20 websites in the US linked from Facebook posts were responsible for just 1.9 percent of all content views in the quarter.

YouTube and Amazon were the two most popular, with 181.3 million and 134.6 million content views respectively. Unicef was third with 134.4, the majority of which were related to COVID-19 and the organisation responding to its spread in India.

Content from news providers in the top 20 only accounted for 0.3 percent of content views, the company said.

In terms of individual pages, Unicef was the most popular with 153.2 million content viewers. Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons - which offers free family recipes - and video creator Sassy Media rounded out the top three with 112.3 million and 109.5 million views respectively.

The most widely viewed post in the quarter, with a staggering 80.6 million views, was from Gaur Gopal Das, a personal coach, monk and author.

Facebook post
Photo credit: Facebook

The viral post asked people to reflect on the first three words they found in a giant wordsearch-like grid, noting his were gratitude, connection and change.

Other posts in the top 20 included a debate about whether spaghetti should have sugar in it or not, naming your genitals after the last television show or movie you watched and where you would go if you were given $25,000 and a plane but had to leave immediately.

In the SCER the social media giants also found hate speech has decreased for the third quarter in a row, with removal of hate content increasing over 15 times since it first began reporting on it.

It's also been active in promoting reliable data around COVID-19 while removing harmful misinformation, it says.

That includes "more than 20 million pieces of content from Facebook and Instagram globally for violating our policies on COVID-19-related misinformation," it wrote.

"We have removed over 3,000 accounts, pages, and groups for repeatedly violating our rules against spreading COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation."