Facebook may have denied being completely responsible for media content on its social platform, but it is still taking additional steps to advance the current state of news literacy. The social media behemoth has today announced that it has collaborated with a network of over 25 partners to set up and fund a new non-profit project called ‘News Integrity Initiative’.
This development follows pursuit to recent allegations of the spread of misinformation and fake stories, especially during the time of U.S Presidential elections. Facebook was even accused of being the primary propagator of such misleading news stories, which led to the surprising victory of Donald Trump. But, the company denied any responsibility for the same, stating that fake news accounts for only 1 percent of the content and it is ‘crazy’ to think that its propagation led to the said outcome of the elections.
The News Integrity Initiative is a global consortium which has been founded by tech industry leaders, academic institutions, and non-profits among others. They’re joining hands to launch a $14 million fund to focus on helping individuals make “informed judgments about the news they read and share online.” This initiative will also focus on funding applied research and projects to advance news literacy and increasing trust in journalism around the world. It will also dispense a chunk of cash on meetings with industry experts.
The primary objective of this initiative has been described as under:
The initiative will address the problems of misinformation, disinformation and the opportunities the internet provides to inform the public conversation in new ways.
The founding partners of this news-focused initiative include Facebook, the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, Tow Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, AppNexus, Mozilla, and Betaworks. This initiative will be housed out of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism.
Commenting on the formation of the same, Campbell Brown, Facebook’s Head of News Partnerships said,
As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, we want to give people the tools necessary to be discerning about the information they see online. Improving news literacy is a global concern, and this diverse group assembled by CUNY brings together experts from around the world to work toward building more informed communities.
The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism will independently administer the said initiative, and appoint a general manager to focus on the smooth functioning of the same. This appointed individual will report to the dean of CUNY J-School, Sarah Bartlett. They will be responsible for coordinating all activities, research, events and special projects under this initiative. Speaking on the same, CUNY J-School Dean Sarah Bartlett said,
By locating the News Integrity Initiative at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, our faculty and students will have a unique opportunity to engage with researchers and technologists, attend events and conduct experiments aimed at building greater trust in our profession.
Currently, close to nineteen organizations and individuals have signed up to carry out research projects under this initiative. They will also host projects and research initiatives across the globe to focus on advancing news literacy. Facebook’s initiative kicks off with the following partners:
- Arizona State University in the U.S.
- Center for Community and Ethnic Media at CUNY Journalism School in the U.S.
- Constructive Institute at Aarhus University in Denmark
- Edelman based in the U.S.
- European Journalism Centre in the Netherlands
- Fundación Gabriel García Márquez para el Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano (FNPI) based in Colombia
- Hamburg Media School in Germany
- Hans-Bredow-Institut in Germany
- The Ida B. Wells Society in the U.S.
- International Center for Journalists based in the U.S.
- News Literacy Project based in the U.S.
- Polis, London School of Economics in the U.K.
- Ecole de Journalisme de Sciences Po (Sciences Po Journalism School) in France
- The Society of Publishers in Asia based in Hong Kong
- Trust Project based in the U.S.
- Walkley Foundation in Australia
- Weber Shandwick based in the U.S.
- Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Division for Freedom of Expression and Media Development headquartered in France
Facebook and other founding partners are currently involved in signing up more partners to expand, as well as expedite the research efforts to enlighten the populace about the importance of correct media information and the ill-effects of misleading stories. This will lead to the formation of improved and informed communities.
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