Facebook launches project to ‘support quality journalism’

Mark Zuckerberg F8 2016

“Facebook” and “quality journalism” are not usually phrases you would see put together, but Facebook Inc. wants to change that with its newly announced Facebook Journalism Project.

The new project is aimed at encouraging better journalism on Facebook by collaborating with media partners on new features, training journalists on how to better use Facebook’s tools, and teaching the public how to look at the news more critically.

“Facebook is a new kind of platform and we want to do our part to enable people to have meaningful conversations, to be informed and to be connected to each other,” Fidji Simo, director of product at Facebook, said in a blog post. “We know that 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.”

Collaborating with journalists

Facebook says that its product and engineering teams will be working closely with its publishing partners and other members of the media to develop new features for sharing and monetizing news  content on the social network. For example, the company wants to add new storytelling formats that are specifically geared toward publishers, such as the ability to deliver packages of stories to interested readers. Facebook is already testing this feature with its Instant Articles partners, allowing them to share several articles in one post.

Another development Facebook would like to pursue is better support for local news and independent media. Simo noted in her post that this initiative is still in its earliest stages, and Facebook is seeking more input from local media organizations on what sorts of features they would find valuable.

Facebook is also interested in providing new revenue models and business opportunities for the media, such as offering free trial subscriptions to publications directly through Instant Articles.

“This is the kind of work we want to do more of,” Simo said. “We’ll also keep working on monetization options for partners, such as expanding our live ad break test to a wider group of partners, and exploring ad breaks in regular videos.”

New training and tools

In addition to developing new features specifically for media organizations, the Facebook Journalism Project also aims to offer individual journalists training and tools to take better advantage of the platform. For example, Facebook now offers a series of e-learning courses that teach journalists how to take advantage of Facebook and Instagram, how to engage audiences with Facebook Live and so on.

Facebook is also looking to offer useful tools for journalists, and the company announced today that it would be making the recently acquired CrowdTangle free to its partners. The site has also launched a number of new Facebook Live features for journalists, including the ability for Page administrators to authorize specific users to go live on behalf of the Page.

Educating the public

It is no secret that Facebook has been struggling with fake news topics being shared through its platform, and the company is desperately fighting the perception that the social network cannot be a reliable source of information. To that end, Facebook’s new journalism project also seeks to increase news literacy and to better educate the public on how to spot hoaxes.

“We will work with third-party organizations on how to better understand and to promote news literacy both on and off our platform to help people in our community have the information they need to make decisions about which sources to trust,” Simo said.

In her post, Simo highlighted some of Facebook’s recent work in fighting hoaxes, such as its efforts to disrupt spammers as well as its new third-party fact checker program.

“This problem is much bigger than any one platform, and it’s important for all of us to work together to minimize its reach,” Simo said.

Facebook says that it will introduce other initiatives to its new journalism project in the future, all of which will be shared on the new Facebook Journalism Project website.

Image courtesy of Facebook