Facebook on Wednesday launched a new program aimed at establishing stronger ties with the media.
As part of its new Journalism Project, Facebook will be “collaborating with news organizations to develop products, learning from journalists about ways we can be a better partner and working with publishers and educators on how we can equip people with the knowledge they need to be informed readers in the digital age,” Director of Product Fidji Simo wrote in a blog post.
Though Facebook has worked with members of the media in the past, the social network plans to ramp up that collaboration by involving news partners in its product development process from the start. The company said it wants to work with media to tweak its current formats, like Live and Instant Articles, and build new ones “to better suit their needs.”
One idea it’s working on: Giving editors the ability to present “packages of stories” on the platform. “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,” Simo wrote.
Facebook is also looking into subscriptions; this month, it collaborated with German publisher BILD to offer free content trials within Instant Articles. In the future, it may also be easier to get local news on Facebook.
These new efforts come as many media organizations feel an increasing reliance on Facebook. As of May 2016, 62 percent of U.S. adults said they get news from social media sources, according to Pew Research. Reddit had the largest number of users who said they get their news on the site at 70 percent, followed by Facebook users at 66 percent and Twitter at 59 percent.
Facebook, however, has battled a flood of so-called “fake news.” People create Pages for dubious news sites that traffic in salacious and often-incorrect news stories with the express purpose of getting clicks and, in turn, ad revenue. Facebook (and Google) cracked down on this practice in mid-November, but the move came after the 2016 presidential election, prompting some to complain that the misinformation on Facebook — much of it critical of Hillary Clinton — swayed the election in Donald Trump’s favor.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially pushed back on that, but has since rolled out new tools that make it easier to identify and report hoaxes you see in your Facebook News Feed. The company is now working with third-party fact-checking organizations to flag fake news, which might in turn show up lower in people’s feeds and with a warning.