Facebook starts testing News, its new section for journalism

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Facebook is introducing Facebook’s news section which was previously reported to be imminent. Facebook News is rolled out in a limited test in the U.S. as a home screen tab and bookmark in the main Facebook Application. It will be available to a limited group of users in the U.S., starting today.

Campbell Brown, the vice president of global news partnership and Mona Sarantakos, the product manager, said in a blog post that the news article will continue to appear in the main news feed. They added that by creating a separate tab focussed on journalism. The specific tab will give people more control over the stories they see. It will also give them the ability to explore a wider range of their news interests, directly within the Facebook application.

As per the latest information the News tab was developed in consultation with publishers, and also based on feedback from a survey of more than 100,000 Facebook users in the United States earlier this year. The Facebook News will use both human editors and algorithms to determine which stories people want to see. There will be a section called Today’s stories, curated by a team of journalists, who will focus on providing the highlights of the biggest national news stories of the day. Facebook will also focus on providing algorithmic story suggestions based on the users interest and activity.

Users will be able to:

  1. Hide articles, topics and publishers they don’t want to see
  2. Browse articles based on business, entertainment, health, science and technology, and sports

Brown and Sarantakos wrote that regardless the personalization, the publishers still worry that machine learning has its own limit. They suggested that algorithms will be “driving the majority of Facebook News,” and that they’ll be working to ensure that those algorithms are also surfacing “new forms of journalism in the digital age, including individual, independent journalism.”

Brown and Sarantakos mentioned that the publishers must be the part of Facebook’s News Page Index, and also by abide by the company’s Publisher Guidelines, which includes prohibitions against misinformation (as flagged by third-party fact-checkers) and hate speech. We do not have the list of the publishers but, screenshot of the news section posted by Facebook includes stories from-

  1. The Wall Street Journal
  2. Time
  3. The Washington Post
  4. BuzzFeed News, Bloomberg
  5. Fox Business
  6. Business Insider
  7. NPR and others
  8. spokespeople for The Post
  9. BuzzFeed
  10. The LA Times

According to Recode, Facebook is helping in paying some of these publishers millions of dollars a year. Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of the BuzzFeed also mentioned that  BuzzFeed is glad to participate. He also added that he is happy that Facebook is taking lead in recognizing the value news provide to these platforms in a tangible way.

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By Varnit Yadav

I'm a Computer Science engineering student. Love to read, write and explore. Apart from being a nerd I'm also a fitness enthusiast.

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