Facebook: A Solution to the End of Fake News?
by Laura-Camille on February 4, 2017 - 11:21am
With approximately 1.8 billion members, it would be inaccurate to say that Facebook does not have an influence on the opinions and on the exposure to mass media of a quarter of the World population. In the beginning of 2017, Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg finally recognized this social media’s responsibility in the consumption of news, be it fake or not, and created the Facebook Journalism Project. Mike Isaac, a technology reporter for The New York Times, explains this new development in the article titled: Facebook, Nodding to Its Role in Media, Starts a Journalism Project (published by The New York Times, on January 11, 2017).
The Facebook Journalism Project’s objective is to forge better relationships between Facebook and publishers by collaborating on publishing tools and platforms. Facebook will also establish training for members of the public to help them filter the quality and accuracy of news outlets they choose to look at. Already, the project looks promising as Facebook has partnered with Vox Media and The Washington Post, and many other publishers have expressed interest, such as The New York Times. Moreover, Facebook announced partnerships with ‘’outside groups’’ to help fact-check the stories and articles featured on its platform. There has not been any specific outside groups named. This initiative is somewhat a long time coming, as the social media’s executives have received intense criticism in the past months, even years, for not recognizing their responsibility in the spread of fake news; Until recently, Zuckerberg described Facebook merely as a ‘’technology entity’’.
The relationship between Facebook and publishers has always been complicated. On one side, the publishers rely of media platforms like Facebook for their stories to be read. On the other hand, the constant change of algorithms by the social network has a massive impact on the exposure certain publishers have. Isaac gives the example of Elite Daily and Upworthy, which have apparently ‘’experienced wide swings in traffic’’. As a means to try to change the situation, Facebook has also announced its plan to make CrowdTangle, an analytic tool that searches for Facebook data and that is very useful to journalism, free.
Facebooks’ executives and directors have insisted on the fact that the project is still in its early beginnings, but firmly believe that in the next few months, it will evolve into an improvement of the credibility of journalism in 2017. At a time in history where fake news is so omnipresent in our daily lives, such an initiative is necessary. Social networks’ member count will continue to increase in the future, which could lead to an overflow of fake news. Hopefully, the development of the Facebook Journalism Project will help limit the amount of fake news and misinformation featured in social networks.
For Mike Isaac’s full article for The New York Times, consult the following: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/11/technology/facebook-journalism-project.html?_r=0.
For an article about the extended place of fake news in social networks, consult the following article by Andrew Higgins, Mike McIntire & Gabriel J.X. Dance for The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/world/europe/fake-news-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-georgia.html .