Introducing Facebook News

By Sara Smida / February 8, 2020 / Social Media Blog Archives

It seems like only yesterday when we were discussing Today In, an attempt from Facebook to provide its users with credible news from local sources.

Now the social media giant is testing a dedicated place for news happening throughout the United States.

But not the news you might assume the social media giant would share — social media news, viral videos, celeb gossip et al.

Facebook News will share content that is deeply researched and credible, giving readers information they can rely on.

When the news is anything less than that, we lose the ability to trust an essential tool for making decisions — or even trusting that the story is true.

So, what is the latest attempt to provide us with reliable news?

Facebook News

At the end of October 2019, Facebook announced it will be rolling out a standalone news tab in the mobile app that will highlight journalism from credible sources and news outlets. The initiative, aptly named, Facebook News is debuting to a subset of the company’s U.S. audience.

It will give readers more control over the stories they see, and they ability to explore a wider range of news within the Facebook mobile app. Facebook News will also highlight relevant national stories of the day.

As of right now, news stories will appear in the News Feed as they do currently. Once it has been thoroughly tested and vetted, it will then be rolled out to users throughout the U.S.

Key Features that Makes Facebook News Valuable

Back in April 2019, Mark Zuckerberg had a conversation with Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Europe’s largest publisher Axel Springer, where the two discussed the role of quality journalism.

During this conversation, key features were identified to help make Facebook News valuable to readers. The features include:

  • Today’s Stories: These will be chosen by a team of journalists to bring readers up to speed on news throughout the day.
  • Personalization: Based on news a user reads, share, or follow, Facebook News will find new interests and topics for the readers.
  • Topic Sections: This will take a deeper look into business, entertainment, health, science and technology, and sports.
  • Your Subscriptions: A section for readers who have linked their paid news subscriptions to their Facebook account so that all their news is in one spot.
  • Controls: Readers will have the ability to hide articles, topics, and publishers they would like to remove for their feed.

Personalization abilities might leave some publishers feeling worried. And with the way most Facebook updates have gone, it’s understandable.

Technology and algorithms have a bit to go before we can rely on them completely to provide us with the quality results we hope for.

Facebook News aims to provide quality content for users and publishers — and not just national publishers. The goal is to include content from independent journalists, small news outlets, and national newsrooms.

That said, the algorithm will need to learn and adapt to ensure the desired content is being served.

Identifying Publishers

To identify as a publisher, journalists and news groups will need to be registered as a News Page and abide by Facebook’s Publisher Guidelines. The Guidelines include a range of integrity signals including eliminating misinformation and maintaining community standards.

Criteria is expected to evolve over time to ensure readers are consuming content that is valuable to them.

Unlike the ill-fated Instant Articles, links to news stories will direct users outside of their News Feed and onto the publisher’s native website. This should help keep traffic numbers up.

It would seem that Facebook is acknowledging its pivotal role as a news source for many of the platform’s users. With this added effort, we can only hope that it will cut down on clickbait, fake news, and other pieces of content that are less-than savory.

But, between Today In and Instant Articles, I’m a little hesitant to think that this will be the answer.

So, for now we’ll have to wait and see if the latest attempt from Facebook will be everlasting and make a positive impact on how we consume news, or if it will be yet another ill-fated attempt.