Facebook tests a ‘dedicated place for News’ in the US as Zuckerberg buries hatchet with publishers

Facebook tests a ‘dedicated place for News’ in the US as Zuckerberg buries the hatchet with publishers
Mark Zuckerberg Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg is implementing a new feature. Photo: Anthony Quintano via Flickr

After a sour relationship with news publishers, Facebook will be introducing a dedicated section for their content. The firm’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has had a change of heart amid the introduction of Facebook News.

Fresh start?

This platform is available from today but for the moment, only to a limited group of United States users. Currently, it’s a huge task for many news publishers to make it into the feed of users due to Facebook’s algorithms.

Previously, news content could be seen more easily by people who follow a publisher’s page. However, in the middle of this decade, Facebook started to favor specific types of posts. The group also started to heavily prioritize sponsored content.

Today’s implementation of a dedicated news tab could be an indication of Facebook’s policy shift. Therefore, publishers may have a chance to be seen again.

The Drum reports that Zuckerberg has stated that the revamp will have benefits for both parties.

“(Facebook could) potentially have a direct relationship with publishers to make sure that their content is available if it’s really high-quality content,” Zuckerberg said, as reported by The Drum.

Mark Zuckerberg
Zuckerberg and Facebook are keen on curating content with integrity Photo: Maurizio Pesce via Flickr

How does it work?

Facebook’s media release states that journalism plays a crucial role in democracy and it wants to make sure that the news it displays is well reported. This statement coincides with the brand’s previous announcement that it will be addressing deepfakes and false news ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

The firm was previously under fire due to its role in allowing fake news to be spread during the last campaign and its keen not to let the same mistakes happen again. The new feature is set to be placed in the region where the ‘watch’ tab is on the app.

However, Facebook has explained how the news will be sourced and displayed. It shared the below.

“As we talked to people and publishers, we identified key features to help make Facebook News valuable:

  • Today’s Stories chosen by a team of journalists to catch you up on the news throughout the day 
  • Personalization based on the news you read, share and follow, so you can find new interests and topics and Facebook News is fresh and interesting every time you open it
  • Topic sections to dive deeper into business, entertainment, health, science & tech, and sports
  • Your Subscriptions, a section for people who have linked their paid news subscriptions to their Facebook account
  • Controls to hide articles, topics and publishers you don’t want to see”

This summary confirms that there will be a paid option for this service, much like Apple News+. Moreover, this could be a great initiative for journalists who had previously fallen out of love for Facebook. Although, this will only be a plus IF the publishers get a fair slice of the pie.

Facebook News
How Facebook News is displayed within the app. Photo: Facebook

Wait and see

In addition, the fact that there is a team of journalists that choose the featured news could be a cause for concern. The news that’s highlighted could be a reflection on the curator’s preference, increasing bias in an already polarized society.

We have to wait and see how this feature pans out because the watch tab that’s already in use isn’t such a revolutionary tool but more of a useful addition. The majority of users merely scroll through their main feed, looking at content from the same publishers, every day.

Ultimately, there have been calls for Facebook to revert to its classic, social network approach. Perhaps, the move for a dedicated news platform can shift the politically-charged news to one section so users can use the main tab for what initially was built for.

What do you think of the introduction of Facebook News? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

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