Facebook News debuts as social media fights false information


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Facebook wishes to be your location for news.

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook stated Friday that it’s checking a tab that will show curated newspaper article, a relocation that might assist the social media surface area more reputable media outlets as it attempts to cut the spread of false information.

“It’s no secret that the internet has really disrupted the news business model,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated Friday at an occasion in New York to talk about the news tab. “I just think that every internet platform has the responsibility to try to help fund and inform partnerships to support news.”

Called Facebook News, the item will at first have about 200,000 users in the United States. A group of reporters will select leading stories. Users will likewise see individualized news short articles based upon their interests and short articles from their paid news memberships. Facebook News users can likewise conceal publishers, short articles or subjects they do not wish to see.

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The separation of news stories into a new tab marks a change from Facebook’s previous practice of showing articles in a user’s News Feed alongside photos and videos from family and friends. The use of human curators also makes the company less reliant on algorithms to choose and deliver news items, a practice that led to claims that publishers of misinformation and altered videos could game Facebook’s systems. 

“We have progress to make before we can rely on technology alone to provide a quality news destination,” Campbell Brown, vice president of global news partnerships, and Mona Sarantakos, a product manager for Facebook News, said in a blog post. 

Users will still see news articles appear in their News Feed as well.

The new tab comes as Facebook and other social networks, including Twitter and LinkedIn, increasingly replace newspapers and magazines as the place to consume news. About one-in-five US adults often get their news through social media, surpassing print newspapers, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center. Last year, though, Facebook changed its News Feed so users saw more content from family and friends than news articles or posts from brands. The company also continues to battle disinformation and allegations that it suppresses conservative speech, which Facebook has denied. 


Facebook News will display curated top stories in a section called “Today’s Stories.”


Facebook and news organizations have a strained relationship because both compete for ad dollars, making media outlets wary about relying too much on social networks to drive traffic to their stories. Facebook didn’t name the news outlets it was partnering with for Facebook News in the blog post. A person familiar with the matter said The Washington Post, Bloomberg, BuzzFeed News, Business Insider, Bloomberg, Hearst Newspapers, McClatchy and the LA Times were among the publications participating. Facebook is paying some publishers who provide a steady amount of fact-based original content, the person said. 

CNET and some sister sites, including CBS News, CBS Sports and ET, are paid partners.

The social network declined to comment on the terms of the deals. Zuckerberg said that generally, Facebook’s paid deals are based on the amount of content that a publisher produces and how many people subscribe to or read it. 

Zuckerberg’s spin

Zuckerberg said Facebook hopes that after several years, 20 million to 30 million people in the US will use the News tab. 

One change of the last few years that paved the way for the News tab, Zuckerberg said, is Facebook’s work on “secondary tabs.” Most time spent on Facebook is in the company’s algorithmic News Feed, which curates all kinds of posts from people and pages you follow. But secondary tabs, like the Watch tab for video and now a News tab for articles, are minihubs for other kinds of content. 

Having a secondary tab for News was a way for Facebook to address the conundrum of news on the platform. 

“We get consistent feedback from the vast majority of people on our services that they want to see more content from friends and family and less other stuff,” Zuckerberg said. That created an “odd dynamic” where Facebook wanted to support journalism, but the company would be “paying for content [when] individuals are stating that they really wish to see something else rather.”

Zuckerberg was inquired about tough concerns connected to Facebook handling the function of curating news. In regards to how the News tab will handle stories about Facebook, Zuckerberg stated it would be unreasonable to have News item that does not cover Facebook. 

“In order to make this a relied on source gradually, they [the News tab’s team of curators] need to cover it objectively,” he stated. “We need to make sure that this team has kind of free rein to … include content about Facebook or me or anything else that’s related to that.” 

Facebook’s choice to consist of Breitbart News as a publisher that can be consisted of in the News tab’s curation has actually stired criticism. Breitbart, a conservative publication that a person of its starting board members when specified as a “platform for the alt-right” might be qualified to appear in the News tab, Zuckerberg stated, however “we’re going to have to see a little bit how this plays out” having managers select leading stories.   

“Part of having this be a trusted source is that it needs to have a diversity of views in there,” he stated. 

But he likewise stated that the News tab isn’t suggested to be a location where anyone’s voice ought to be enabled to be heard. “Most of the rest of what we operate on is helping give people a voice broadly, and making sure that everyone can share their opinion,” he stated. “That’s not this. This is a space that is dedicated to high-quality and curated news.”

Facebook has actually dealt with criticism that its collaborations with third-party fact-checkers have not been strenuous enough to avoid false information from going viral on the website. The business does not send out speech from political leaders to fact-checkers, for instance, a policy that drew in more analysis from Democrats this month. If a story is ranked incorrect by a fact-checker, Facebook will not erase the post however will reveal it lower in the News Feed.

A tab of one’s own

Users will have the ability to discover the news tab on the social media like its video center Watch or Marketplace, where individuals can offer and purchase products. The business stated it’s showing news in the tab from 4 classifications of publishers: basic, topical, varied and regional news. Publishers will require to fulfill specific requirements to be qualified to reveal their stories in the news tab, along with comply with its guidelines versus hate speech, violence and other offending material.

As part of the test, the business will display regional news from media outlets from significant United States cities consisting of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington DC. Facebook will show news from its regional news area “Today In” in the coming months also.

Facebook, which takes on Apple and Google in news aggregation, has actually dealt with difficulties dealing with publishers and reporters. In 2015, Facebook introduced Instant Articles, a method for publishers to show news short articles on the social media without triggering users to leave the website. Many publishers appear to have actually cast aside that format, the Columbia Journalism Review reported in 2015. 

Facebook likewise utilized to screen “trending” subjects on its website however the business ditched the questionable area in 2018 after 4 years. The area appeared phony news and conspiracy theories. There were likewise claims that employees reduced conservative news within that area, however Facebook pressed back versus these claims. 

The business hasn’t stated yet when it prepares to launch Facebook News internationally.

Originally released Oct. 25, 3 a.m. PT.
Update, 12: 40 p.m.: Adds remarks from Zuckerberg throughout. 

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