No matter if it likes to admit it or not, Facebook is a media company and, perhaps, its new Journalism Project will help it and its users understand that.
The social media giant announced its new Journalism Project on January 11 and promised, among other points, it will be “collaborating with news organizations to develop products, learning from journalists about ways we can be a better partner, and working with publishers and educators on how we can equip people with the knowledge they need to be informed readers in the digital age.”
This is a rather verbose way to explain its project will attempt to sort for Facebook users real journalism, real news from the lies and more lies which have become all too pervasive on the digital platforms and spaces.
It seems almost incomprehensible that such a project would even be necessary. But in these times when so many internet users seem incapable of critical thinking on their own the media companies and news organizations – including and, perhaps especially, Facebook have a shared responsibility to separate fact from fiction or propaganda.
Facebook’s new effort – not to be confused with its December move to help Facebook users tell the difference between a real news story and a fake news story – will approach the problem in three distinct ways, it says:
- Work with legitimate news organizations to develop genuine news products on the platform.
- Set up training programs for journalists to help them better understand how to use Facebook
- Set up new training and tools for Facebook users to help them find real news and identify fake news stories or propaganda.
Editor’s Note: The United States (and many places around the world) celebrated January 16 the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, who taught us that love and non-violence is the only real answer to intolerance, injustice, oppression and war.
We encourage you to examine his work and celebrate his message at The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” – The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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There has often been a certain amount of tension between news organizations and Facebook with both realizing they need each other and, at the same time, competing intensely for digital advertising dollars as traditional news organization try to stay alive with online efforts. (Facebook and Google, combined, garnered almost all the growth in digital advertising revenue in the first half of 2016.)
Facebook says it will develop new story-telling products for news organizations and readers.
“We’re going to start testing this using Instant Articles, so that readers can start to see multiple stories at a time from their favorite news organizations,” explained Facebook Director of Product Fidji Simo. “This is a very early test — and we will continue to work with partners on how to make this product great for them.”
The company also promised to work more closely with local and regional news organizations – at that local level – to provide better news products on the network.
For journalists, Facebook says it will step up its efforts to help journalists better understand the platform.
“In addition to the newsroom training we currently offer, we’re now conducting a series of e-learning courses on Facebook products, tools and services for journalists,” posted Simo. “We will be expanding these trainings to nine additional languages, and partnering with Poynter to launch a certificate curriculum for journalists in the months ahead.
Simo said it will provide free access for journalists to CrowdTangle, a company it recently bought and which provides data, insights and analytics for news organizations.
And Facebook Live will figure prominently in the new effort because, well, “live.”
“Eyewitnesses who upload videos and images during breaking news events have become powerful and important sources for journalists,” wrote Simo. “We are proud to be a member of the First Draft Partner Network, a coalition of platforms and 80+ publishers, that works together to provide practical and ethical guidance in how to find, verify and publish content sourced from the social web. We will increase our commitment to First Draft, helping them establish a virtual verification community and more.”
For Facebook users, the network says will also step up education and training.
“In the short-term, we are working with the News Literacy Project to produce a series of public service ads (PSAs) to help inform people on Facebook about this important issue,” Simo explained. “Our longer-term goal is to support news organizations with projects and ideas aimed at improving news literacy, including financial grants where needed.
“In addition, we launched a program to work with third-party fact checking organizations that are signatories of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles to identify hoaxes on Facebook. This problem is much bigger than any one platform, and it’s important for all of us to work together to minimize its reach.”
As we posted this piece January 16 – the day we Americans celebrate the life the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. – we cannot help but reminded how truth – and its close cousin, justice – were and are at the core of Dr. King’s life-long campaign to build bridges over that which divides us as a people and to recognize and celebrate the love within us all, the love which can always conquer hate.
We invite you to take a few minutes, at least, of this day to reflect on Dr. King’s dream – and – to take action wherever you can find it: