Facebook begins rollout of News Tab in US

Facebook begins rollout of News Tab in US

Screengrab from Facebook's video showing new News Tab
Screengrabs from a Facebook video showing the social media platform's new News Tab. (Image: Facebook)

WASHINGTON: Facebook on Friday (Oct 25) began rolling out its dedicated "news tab" with professionally produced content, the latest move by the social network to promote journalism and shed its reputation as a platform for misinformation.

The news tab, being tested with some US users, will be separate from user's normal feeds and include articles from partner news organizations, with Facebook relying on both human curation and algorithmic "personalization."

Labeled Facebook News, the tab "gives people more control over the stories they see, and the ability to explore a wider range of their news interests, directly within the Facebook app," said a Facebook statement.

The initiative is in line with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's call to promote "quality journalism" and help readers separate professional content from viral hoaxes.

"We talked to news organizations about what they'd like to see included in a news tab, how their stories should be presented and what analytics to provide," Facebook vice president for news partnerships Campbell Brown and product manager Mona Sarantakos said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Zuckerberg pointed to a "big announcement" on news and journalism and indicated the new feature would highlight "high quality news, not just social content."

Facebook is expected to pay some of the news organizations that will contribute but has yet to disclose full details.

The social network has partnered with some 200 news organizations including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, CBS News, BuzzFeed, Fox News, the Boston Globe, Bloomberg and Vanity Fair.

Facebook said it would begin an initial test rollout which would "showcase local original reporting by surfacing local publications from the largest major metro areas across the country, beginning with New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Houston, Washington DC, Miami, Atlanta and Boston."

Facebook will use "algorithmic selection" for the majority of the articles but also "a curation team" of journalists which will select the articles for a section of "today's stories."

Topic sections will include business, entertainment, health, science and technology, and sports.

REBOOTING THE RELATIONSHIP

The move represents Facebook's efforts to reboot its relationship with news organizations, many of which have been critical of the platform for allowing the spread of misinformation and for taking much of the ad revenue from the online ecosystem.

The plan notably brings together Facebook and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp,, one of the harshest critics of a digital ecosystem which make it difficult to find professional content.

Northeastern University professor Dan Kennedy said the tab could help Facebook users make a distinction between misinformation and professional news.

"Less savvy news consumers might not be able to tell the difference between exaggerated or fake viral news and real journalism from respected news organizations," Kennedy said.

"So this should help a lot."

Ken Paulson, a former USA Today editor who now heads the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University, agreed that the initiative will promote better content.

"My long-term hope for the news business is that more consumers will recognize the difference between quality and chaos and be willing to pay for the good stuff," he said.

The news tab "has the potential to change the way that consumers find news on the network," said University of Oregon journalism professor Damian Radcliff.

"At the moment, people bump into news in their feed, as opposed to actively seeking it out, as they do on Twitter, Apple News, or dedicated news apps."

Facebook said it would begin an initial test rollout which would "showcase local original reporting by surfacing local publications from the largest major metro areas across the country, beginning with New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Houston, Washington DC, Miami, Atlanta and Boston."

Source: AFP/nc

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