January 24, 2017
In the latest news – about fake news – Facebook announced Wednesday its plans to take responsibility as a leading arbiter of information through the Facebook Journalism Project. The initiative includes a new range of products and programs for publishers and reporters aimed at strengthening Facebook’s relationship with the news industry in a joint effort to combat false information proliferated by the site.
The Facebook Journalism Project seeks to foster collaboration among Facebook and the news community in areas including product development, new business models and growing audience. The initiative also offers a new toolset for journalists, including tools geared specifically to empower local reporters in their ability to utilize Facebook’s search features in their reporting. Finally, the initiative aims to mitigate the threat of fake news by helping to train members of the public in identifying trustworthy news sources.
While the project is a laudable first step by the folks at the social media platform to own their responsibility as a leading source of news for its 1.8 billion users, it is unclear if it will accomplish much in helping the public identify what is real or fake news. On the outset, the initiative appears to be mainly concerned with repairing the platform’s business relationships with the media, and much less about arming the public against the growing threat of false information. While Facebook is forging partnerships with outside groups to help fact-check stories and denote which ones may be fake, it remains to be seen if these efforts will actually result in the large-scale mitigation of fake news.