Bad news, people: fake news didn’t just disappear at the beginning of 2017. It seems, though, that Facebook is going to have a stab at dealing with
Facebook’s director of product Fidji Simo has detailed how the social network will deal with the modern day scourge dubbed the Facebook Journalism Project.
The initiative revolves around three main aspects: education for journalists, education for users and collaboration with news houses.
Starting at the source Facebook wants to work with news houses even more closely than it already does to see how Facebook can adapt its berth of tools to engage more closely with readers. One of these adaptations is already being test in the form of multiple Instant Articles.
“We’re going to start testing this using Instant Articles, so that readers can start to see multiple stories at a time from their favorite news organizations. This is a very early test — and we will continue to work with partners on how to make this product great for them,” wrote Simo.
For the moment this feature is being tested out with publications such as USA Today, India Times and Buzzfeed. We have contacted Facebook’s local representatives to find out whether these tools will be made available to local news houses and we will update this story when we receive a response.
Beyond this new feature the social network also hopes to collaborate with local news organisations to “shape what local news on Facebook could look like.”
Education for all
With tools such as Facebook Live becoming a source for journalists Facebook is working with Poynter to launch a series of certified courses that will teach journalists how to use these tools to both report and source news effectively.
This is already taking place to some extent with initiatives such as First Draft News which provides – among other things – guidelines on how to verify content coming from social feeds is legitimate.
Of course, all of these measures mean nothing if users aren’t able to separate fact from alarming fiction.
Details about how Facebook plans to help users are rather thin on the ground. Aside from a few public service adverts (images of World War 2 propaganda posters are conjured in our minds) that will be disseminated through out the platform, Facebook plans to work with various news houses to improve news literacy.
The social network also recently launched tools to help folks more easily report instances of fake news.
To its credit Facebook appears to be taking this matter seriously but we do hope that these plans are expedited sooner rather than later. “This problem is much bigger than any one platform, and it’s important for all of us to work together to minimize its reach,” says Simo and we fully agree.
The spreading of fake news is everybody’s problem especially when it pops up on your timeline and makes you question the truth.
UPDATE: Facebook’s local representatives have said that there are currently no South African news agencies which form part of the Facebook Journalism Project.[Source – Facebook]