Published: Sat, January 14, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Merle Christensen

Facebook Releases New Plan to Combat Fake News

Facebook Releases New Plan to Combat Fake News

Facebook is not a publisher of news; it is a conveyor of information, and some of it is news. Sure. But this new program also combines numerous smaller half-gestures that Facebook had already begun.

The company's Journalism Project follows a year of debate over Facebook's role in the media - inside the company and externally - during which it faced questions over whether the social network is biased in the way it presents news to users and whether it propagates false information. Other initiatives include helping media partners grow their subscription businesses and "hackathons" where Facebook engineers collaborate with developers from news organizations to identify opportunities and solve problems.

Facebook is taking big steps to deepen its ties with the media.

The social network, for example, will test a new feature in Instant Articles that lets readers see multiple articles at the same time from their favorite news organizations. If you're someone who spends a lot of time thinking about how to work with Facebook, then this announcement may be encouraging (Vox Media, which owns this site, is a company that thinks a lot about that, and says it is working with Facebook on some of these initiatives). 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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Menlo Park-based Facebook intends to work with news agencies to develop news products, bolster local news, develop profit centers with news partners, advance new training initiatives for journalists, promote news literacy and curb news hoaxes, the social media company said. Questions over Facebook's role in the media intensified in the aftermath of Donald Trump's election to the USA presidency, when the company was criticized for not doing more to curb the spread of misinformation on its site. "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". Starting on Wednesday, Facebook Page administrators can give specific journalists access to go live on behalf of a Page, which should make live streaming more flexible for publications.

Some people, even within Facebook, have wondered if the spread of such articles may have influenced the outcome of the 2016 United States presidential election - a charge that co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has dismissed.

In the past, Facebook has declined to acknowledge its role in the media landscape, where it amounts to the world's largest publisher.

According to Simo, the company will also be working with the News Literacy Project to create a series of "public service ads" on the subject in the near term.

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