Facebook is taking its role as a media company more seriously in 2017; at least that’s what it says it’s doing. Fidji Simo, Facebook’s Director of Product, introduced a new Journalism Project to establish stronger ties between Facebook and the news industry.
How it intends to do this is a series of different programmes, each covering a different aspect of what the company thinks needs to be done. This includes collaborating with news agencies to promote more local news and find new storytelling formats, introducing new tools and training for journalists, and teaching the public to be more news literate.
While all this looks good on paper, it doesn’t quite address the problems that social media has been facing over the last few months. Facebook, and to a lesser extend Twitter, has come under fire for allowing hoaxes and untrue news stories to propagate. Leading to the results of the most recent US general election. The situation has only worsened after the US formally accused Russia of spreading those very stories to influence the outcome of the election.
However, Facebook said that this project is not a reaction to recent events. The company has apparently been in talks with the media for months before making this announcement; which should come as a relief?
At the moment, Facebook is the only social media company to be in a position to do anything about the propagation of fake news. Twitter, which is in the same boat, is currently facing financial issues and has traditionally ignored what is happening on the platform.