The Facebook Journalism Project comes after company accused of failing to tackle misinformation and at a time when newsrooms are cutting costs
Facebook has unveiled measures to establish stronger ties between the social network and the news industry, allowing for collaboration on product development, new ways for publishers to make money, and training for newsrooms and readers.
The announcement of the Facebook Journalism Project comes in the wake of heightened scrutiny of the social networks role as a distributor of news, which saw the company accused of failing to tackle the spread of misinformation in the run-up to the US presidential election. At the same time, Facebook and Google are taking the lions share of online advertising revenue while newsrooms cut costs and make lay-offs.
Many of the measures in the Facebook Journalism Project have been unveiled separately before, but the announcement highlights the companys commitment to the content news organizations provide.
Weve been working on this for a long time. Our media partners want a deeper engagement, not just at a business level, but a product/engineering level, said Fidji Simo, Facebooks director of product, who is leading the project.
She said the program is linked to the news feed values that Facebook announced in June 2016. In a blogpost, Facebooks VP of product management, Adam Mosseri, revealed the news feeds primary role was to show content from friends and family, but the other two roles are to inform and entertain.
Simo said: We are making sure that journalism thrives as part of the inform axis.
We are not a traditional media company and we are not a traditional tech company, she added, reiterating Mark Zuckerbergs words from late December. We build technology that helps people connect and be informed. This means working well with the news industry.
The announcement comes the week after Facebook appointed former CNN anchor Campbell Brown to lead the news partnerships team.
Major news organizations already talk to Facebooks news partnerships team regularly, but now they will gain access to the technology companys engineers to develop products whether thats a new storytelling or ad format collaboratively. This will take the form of roundtables, hackathons and shared online groups.
An example of the types of products that will be launched include a way to present packages of stories on Facebook (a feature requested by newsrooms) called collections; ads that appear in the middle of videos and live streams; and a tool that allows readers to subscribe to publications directly from Facebook. With Facebook Live, publishers will be able to designate journalists as contributors so they can broadcast live on behalf of the page without needing login details for the publishers Facebook account.
Im pleased to see the scale of the program and its a recognition that Facebook see themselves as part of the news ecosystem, said Claire Wardle from First Draft News. In the past, its been difficult for news organizations to have access to engineers and the engineers didnt have any understanding of the news business.
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