Facebook Releases New Plan to Combat Fake News

Posted January 14, 2017

For journalists, Facebook will develop programs that help them search the site for information on news and events. Many things, apparently - it's a long post - but it is primarily an affirmation that Facebook values journalism and wants to "establish stronger ties between Facebook and the news industry".

"Facebook, grappling with its role as a primary source of news for many of its users - and a source of revenue and reach on which media organizations increasingly rely, is launching a new initiative to help journalism 'thrive".

The company on Wednesday unveiled a new program called the "Facebook Journalism Project" with three main objectives: Work with journalists to build storytelling tools and monetization options; train journalists to help them make the best use of Facebook as a tool; and partnerwith third parties to promote news literacy on and off the social network. "We 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".

After coming under fire for its role in the distributing of fake news during the election, Facebook is rolling out a new program created to help it forge stronger ties with the news media. Facebook Facing Its News-Delivery ResponsibilityCEO Mark Zuckerberg at first refused to take responsibility for everything his company's 1.8 billion customers post on his public network, and it is hard to pin the world's lies and falsehoods on him personally. In December the company unveiled its plan to deal with fake news by harnessing fact checking and, potentially, making disputed stories appear lower in users' news feeds.

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Facebook faced criticism in the last couple of months that it did not do enough to tackle the problem of fake news stories on its platform during the US presidential campaign. In one hoax article, for example, Pope Francis was falsely reported to have endorsed Donald Trump. "We recently announced improvements on our platform to further reduce the spread of news hoaxes - including ways for people to report them more easily and new efforts to disrupt the financial incentives for spammers".

Some people, even within Facebook, have wondered if the spread of such articles may have influenced the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election - a charge that co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has dismissed. There apparently are so many liars at large in the world-especially, it seems, during election time-that the instant-publishing world of the internet has unleashed content horrors that couldn't have been imagined back in the mid-'90s when the global network went mainstream.

The social network also said it intends to visit newsrooms on a regular basis and stage hackathons, during which the company will meet with developers from news organizations and fashion fresh solutions'.

And last, to help improve news literacy, Facebook said it is working with the News Literacy Project to produce a series of ads to help inform the public about the issue.