How to Use Facebook’s News Sharing
During the latter part of 2019, Facebook is committed to launching a feature in the U.S. which will provide a more enhanced experience for users to learn about the news of the day. When this new feature is rolled out, a dedicated news tab will be displayed prominently among the current core features such as Messenger, Watch, and the News Feed.
It has been learned that Facebook has recently approached major news outlets such as the Washington Post, Dow Jones, ABC News, and Bloomberg about providing news features. In return for content provided by these outlets, Facebook has offered to pay as much as $3 million for the licensing rights for all content appearing under its coming news tab.
The reason for Facebook News
Most of the social media networks have been scrambling recently to fight the spread of fake news on their platforms, after having faced severe criticism for not doing enough in that regard. Earlier this year, Facebook identified several steps it was taking to prevent the spread of misinformation and scams, as well as other problematic content which had been spread on the platform.
Some of the changes Facebook implemented at that time affected groups on the platform, and were intended to clean up problems associated with them. Despite Facebook’s continuing efforts in this area, fake news continues to be disseminated across the platform, and across other social media networks as well.
A study conducted early in 2019 by the Pew Research Center discovered that more than 60% of all adults living in this country who typically obtain their news through social media, felt that they had unwittingly shared false information. In addition, a huge majority of other Americans who obtain their news primarily through the social media, feel that they frequently encounter fake news on their favorite platforms.
The coming News Section
Facebook says this new section of news will be completely dedicated to curating trustworthy news and high quality discussion of world events. It would be modeled primarily on the existing Facebook Watch tab, which is a section on Facebook known for hosting original programming and videos. It would also be an entirely separate entity from the News Feed, which will not undergo any change at all, so that users will still be able to find and share news from that source.
It is anticipated that as many as 20% of all Facebook users would take advantage of the new News Section, thus providing Facebook with a much greater capability of distributing high-end journalism. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg describes the News Section as a feature that would involve both curation and personalization.
Guiding principles of the News Section
The main objective in supplying this brand-new News Experience is that Facebook wants to overcome the negative images it has gained for disseminating fake news, and reverse all that by supplying a product where people can obtain high-quality news. At this point, the new section is not seen as a vehicle for hiring Facebook journalists to produce original work for the platform. However, there appear to be discussions underway regarding the possibility of hiring a small team of journalists who would be responsible for curating news in this new News Section.
The principles involved with the creation of this new section are three in number, and the first of them is to build a product where experts in the field have a chance to provide feedback on news items. Secondly, the News Section is meant to improve monetization for those people who publish already on the News Feed feature. The third guiding principle is to foster a kind of online ecosystem where alternative kinds of journalism can be used, and can thrive in this specific setting.
Of these three principles, the one most likely to catch the eye of publishers is the notion of increased monetization. CEO Zuckerberg contends that Facebook is already considering the possibility of paying licensing fees to publishers, which is an idea gaining momentum among news executives.
Facebook and the news organizations
This monetization idea is seen as one which could make the whole initiative much more sustainable, although admittedly there are a number of details which would have to be worked out before that can be implemented. Up until now, Facebook has had a sketchy relationship with a number of media organizations. Some news industry leaders have even claimed that Facebook has completely undermined business models which they have established.
Others have pointed the finger at Facebook for implementing strategies relative to news-gathering which has resulted in their companies going out of business entirely. So in addition to the technical details involved with establishing this new section feature, Facebook will also have to soothe the ruffled feathers of a number of news media organizations which is it has upset in the past. If it now intends to work hand-in-hand with news outlets, it appears that some fence-mending will be necessary for the social media platform, so that a more amicable relationship can be maintained.
Others on the news bandwagon
Facebook is not the only organization trying to become involved and play a major role in disseminating high-quality, authentic news to its users. The Apple Corporation has recently announced its own massive experiment with dispensing high-quality news, with its launching of a subscription service that would provide authentic news to its users.
Of those Americans who routinely get their news through social media outlets, about 43% of them obtain their news from Facebook. The next most popular outlet is YouTube, which provides 21% of the news for users who are seeking it. Twitter is the third most popular outlet at 12%, followed by Instagram at 8% and LinkedIn at 6%.
There are several other outlets, including Snapchat, Reddit, WhatsApp, and Tumblr which also provide news to information-starved Americans, but they are far less popular than the platforms listed above. Even though Facebook has a substantial lead on YouTube, and more than twice the readership of that platform, it is intent on increasing its advantage. This new offering of high-quality curated news seems likely to provide the kind of benefit Facebook is hoping for, and to increase its readership even more.