Towards the end of 2016, Facebook was heavily criticised and held responsible for surfacing misleading stories and allegedly influencing the outcome of Presidential elections. The social networking giant has repeatedly tried to defend its integrity by calling these remarks crazy. But today, it is sharing a detailed roadmap of how it plans to empower the community and build a healthy news ecosystem.
The company is further expanding on its remark of neither being a traditional technology nor a traditional media one. Called the ‘Facebook Journalism Project,’ it has shared its efforts for being a more active participant in the news industry. It is now actively accepting the role of managing the content on its platform but with some outside help. Speaking on the same, Fidji Simo, Director of Product at Facebook, says,
Our community values sharing and discussing ideas and news, and as a part of our service, we care a great deal about making sure that a healthy news ecosystem and journalism can thrive.
That’s why today we’re announcing a new program to establish stronger ties between Facebook and the news industry.
For the same, the social media giant in the official blog post outlining this initiative mentions the launch of publishing tools and features for journalists. Facebook will also include publishers and news organizations in the development process of new content-focused features. It is also building a series of e-courses for journalists to get acquainted with their products, tools, and services. It will also promote ‘news literacy’ among users of the community, thus, enabling them to help weed out misleading facts and content.
The launch of this initiative comes on the heels of the appointment of former TV anchor Campbell Brown as the head of news partnerships. Her hiring comes at a very important time for the social media giant. She’ll now take up the challenging task of mending their relationships with popular media houses and news outlets. And this piece of the puzzle fits perfectly with the feature packages announced in this initiative.
Facebook is vying to extend its partnership with media outlets by providing them access to a series of new e-learning courses. It is currently launching the same in nine languages and partnering with Poynter for a certificate curriculum in the coming months. The company has also partnered with numerous non-profit journalism organizations to spread their training program to local newsrooms.
CrowdTangle, a platform which enables publishers to analyze the spread of content on the interwebs is being made free for publishers. This 4-year old analytics company was recently picked up by Facebook for an undisclosed sum. The said tool also enables you to surface stories, measure their social performance and identify influencers. The company is extending the scope of Live to make it easy for journalists to go online and start discussions on latest stories.
The social networking giant is also diverting its focus on eyewitnesses, who upload photos and videos with regards to an event/story. It also wants to take the same into consideration for building a “practical and ethical guidance in how to find, verify and publish content sourced from the social web.”
This is one of the most important aspects of this initiative. Facebook has recently been scrutinized for being the villain for propogating false stories, censoring certain posts, and reporting inflated analytics for some. The rise of false stories on the platform have also been attributed as the primary reason for the President-elect’s victory. But, the company is past that remark and wants to bring the community in a loop for the betterment of the platform.
It is now also working with third-party organizations to promote news literacy both on and off our platform. Facebook wants the members of the community to have the know-how of understanding the difference between genuine and false stories. It is further looking to produce a series of public service ads (PSAs) to help inform people on Facebook about this important issue. It also reiterated its commitment to the users, who’re currently acting as mediators for reporting hoax and spam stories.
This initiative will enable Facebook to build an improved relationship with both publishers and readers alike. If implemented successfully, it wouldn’t require you to scroll endlessly through your feeds to find meaningful content. It will also provide visibility to those who’ve penned the content instead of just advertising the story. Thus, instead of improving on the overall quality, this initiative will also focus on improved consumption as well.