In a new move that is set to help bring news content to people, Facebook is partnering with several news media outlets to launch a news section in its flagship apps.
Facebook’s Campbell Brown, VP, Global News Partnerships and Mona Sarantakos, Product Manager, News, noted that “journalism plays a critical role in our democracy,” and moreover, serves as a useful tool for people to make informed decisions.
They both argued that the platform is seeking not only to provide people with personalized experiences but also one that is all-encompassing.
Consequently, they argued that Facebook will start “test Facebook News, a dedicated place for news on Facebook, to a subset of people in the U.S.”
They posited that “News gives people more control over the stories they see, and the ability to explore a wider range of their news interests, directly within the Facebook app. It also highlights the most relevant national stories of the day. News articles will continue to appear in News Feed as they do today.”
Both Brown and Sarantakos stated that journalists and publishers have contributed to the development of the new product offering.
They have also identified the following as key features that will help to make Facebook News valuable:
- News stories are chosen by a team of journalists
- Personalization based on the news read, share and follow
- Topic sections covering business, entertainment, health, science & tech, and sports
- Subscriptions, a section for people who have linked their paid news subscriptions to their Facebook account
- Controls to hide articles, topics, and publishers which one may not want to see
They noted that publishers had expressed concerns about personalization and the limits of machine learning.
“Regarding personalization, publishers worry that machine learning has limits and they’re right. We have progress to make before we can rely on technology alone to provide a quality news destination. We also aim to serve both people and news publishers, and not just the big national players. We want new forms of journalism in the digital age, including individual, independent journalism, to flourish. So, we will continue to expand the algorithmic selection of stories driving the majority of Facebook News.”
Furthermore, they said, “When we started talking to news organizations about building Facebook News earlier this year, they emphasized that original reporting is more expensive to produce and better recognized by seasoned journalists than by algorithms. So, to help reward this kind of work, we formed a curation team to manage the Today’s Stories section of Facebook News. The team will have editorial independence and will select stories based on publicly available guidelines, which you can learn about at facebook.com/news.”
They also argued that Facebook will offer a wide range of content that includes general, topical, diverse, and local news.
“At the beginning of the year, we surveyed over 100,000 people on Facebook in the US about what topics they were most interested in and found that we were under-serving many topics people wanted most in their News Feeds, especially around categories like entertainment, health, business, and sports. We took this into consideration as we identified publishers across those four categories,” stated Brown and Sarantakos.
Additionally, they said featured publishers and categories must attain their News Page Index status and abide by the company’s code of conduct and guidelines.
Yvad Billings, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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