You may soon see more local news on Facebook, partly as a result of the company’s announcement Tuesday of a $300-million investment over the next three years to support local news providers and projects.
And yeah, your first reaction might boil down to this: Can I trust the local news that I’ll end up seeing on the social network?
It’s no secret, of course, that Facebook has had a fake news problem that dates back at least as far as the 2016 presidential campaign, not to mention the brutal data breaches of late that have also bludgeoned Facebook’s reputation.
To be fair, Facebook since the election has taken a number of steps to root out bad actors who have been spreading fake news on the platform, and in some markets has been relying on independent third-party fact checkers, the latest launch on that front of which came just the other day in the U.K.
Facebook cites recent studies that point to the progress it is making in combatting fake news, even while conceding that more needs to be done.
Pew reported this past September that roughly two-thirds of Americans say they get at least some of their news through social media, about the same as the year before.
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Facebook’s newest news initiative is all about local, though not all the investments the company is making will result in news that you’ll end up seeing on the social network.
Even at that, Facebook vice president for global news partnerships Campbell Brown said the company worked last year to understand what kind of news people wanted to see on Facebook, with “local” coming back as the one consistent answer. Facebook promises to support local journalists and newsrooms with their newsgathering efforts and help them build sustainable business models.
There’s certainly nothing fake about the journalistic organizations that Facebook is working with or investing in.
A sampling of Facebook’s local push
Facebook is making a $5-million endowment to launch “Bring Stories Home,” through the Pulitzer Center, with the goal each year to fund at least a dozen in-depth multimedia reporting projects.
Facebook plans to invest $1 million in the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund, dedicated to an innovation and technology hub that is meant to help journalists gather the news.
The company will also invest $1 million in the American Journalism Project, which hopes to reinvigorate local news through venture philanthropy.
Facebook will commit more than $20 million this year, to expand an Accelerator pilot, which launched in the U.S. last year to help local newsrooms with subscription and membership models, and to bring the pilot overseas to Europe.
Facebook also plans to hold a two-day “Accelerate: Local News” summit early this year devoted to local news, in partnership with Knight Foundation and the Online News Association.
“News is a key part of Facebook’s mission to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together,” Brown blogged. “We’re going to continue fighting fake news, misinformation, and low quality news on Facebook. But we also have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to help local news organizations grow and thrive.”
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