Facebook Starts Its Own Online Journalism Function ‘Facebook News’

The company announced Oct. 25 that it would “begin testing Facebook News, a dedicated place for news on Facebook, to a subset of people in the U.S.”

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In the world of social media “fake news” and shared posts, it can be difficult to believe or understand half of the posts shared on social media. Facebook has decided to step into the ring of journalism by providing its own platform service, Facebook News, for “underserved communities with a small amount of local news providers.”

The news tab expanded to more than 6,000 U.S. cities and towns. Facebook states it will begin this venture by featuring local news and original reporting from large metro areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and others.

The company announced Oct. 25 that it would “begin testing Facebook News, a dedicated place for news on Facebook, to a subset of people in the U.S.”

“News gives people more control over the stories they see, and the ability to explore a wider range of their news interests, directly within the Facebok app,” Facebook wrote in a release. “It also highlights the most relevant national stories of the day. News articles will continue to appear in News Feed as they do today.”

The Facebook News tab will feature today’s stories, picked by journalists, personalized news selection for a user’s feed based on their interest and news they’ve previously engaged with, topic sections and a section to pay a subscription to Facebook for news.

“Facebook News will feature a wide range of content across four categories of publishers: general, topical, diverse and local news,” Facebook wrote in a release. “At the beginning of the year, we surveyed over 100,000 people on Facebook in the US about what topics they were most interested in and found that we were under-serving many topics people wanted most in their News Feeds, especially around categories like entertainment, health, business and sports. We took this into consideration as we identified publishers across those four categories.”

The Verge reported that at this time, Facebook would not state how many publishers would be I ncluded in the launch and would continue to add new media outlets.

“The best-case scenario for the news tab is that lots of people will seek it out and find much higher-quality news there than they would in the outrage-bait minefield of the News Feed,” The Verge reported. “That could incentivize Facebook to pay more publishers, and at higher rates, supporting the journalism industry and also tossing a lifeline to our beleaguered democracy.”

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What You Can Expect to See in Facebook News

Facebook News will feature a wide range of content across four categories of publishers: general, topical, diverse and local news. At the beginning of the year, we surveyed over 100,000 people on Facebook in the US about what topics they were most interested in and found that we were under-serving many topics people wanted most in their News Feeds, especially around categories like entertainment, health, business and sports. We took this into consideration as we identified publishers across those four categories.

How do we identify these publishers? They need to be in our News Page Index, which we developed in collaboration with the industry to identify news content. They also need to abide by Facebook’s Publisher Guidelines, these include a range of integrity signals in determining product eligibility, including misinformation — as identified based on third-party fact checkers — community standards violations (e.g., hate speech), clickbait, engagement bait and others. We’ll continually check Pages’ integrity status to ensure eligibility criteria is consistently being met. Lastly, they must serve a sufficiently large audience, with different thresholds for the four categories of publishers.

Our criteria will evolve over time to make sure people are seeing sources that are valuable to them and that we’re including reporting across these topics.

During the initial test, we’ll 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. In the coming months, we’ll include local news from Today In, our local news and community information tab, which recently expanded to over 6,000 US towns and cities.

Facebook News was built to bring people closer to the stories that affect their lives. We’ll continue to learn, listen and improve News as it rolls out more broadly. We hope this work aids in our effort to sustain great journalism and strengthen democracy.