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Facebook To Replace News Algorithms With Professional Journalists

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Facebook Inc will now rely on professional journalists that the company plans to hire instead of relying solely on algorithms to deliver trending news n what the company terms as a positive step to shake up the media industry.

On Tuesday, the social media giant said that it would build a small team of journalists to select the top national news of the day to ensure they’re highlighting the right stories.

According to Facebook, stories will appear in a section called the “news tab,” which the media giant has separated from the traditional news feed that displays updates and content from users’ friends and relatives.

“In theory, I see this as a really positive development. It is something quite promising,” Danna Young, a communications professor at the University of Delaware, told media.

Facebook’s journalists will be curating stories from news sites and won’t be editing headlines or writing content, the California-based company has less to change according to experts even though Facebook has consistently said it does not want to be considered a media organization that makes major editorial decisions.

 

“It’s not transformative because it’s not going to change necessarily the behavior of individuals who are referencing stories on their feeds. That’s where the power comes from  individuals you know and trust putting their tacit stamp of approval on stories by sharing them,” Danna Young said

News Tab will be Facebook’s first news feature using human moderators since it shut down its hapless  “trending topics” section last year after they were accused of suppressing stories about conservative issues.

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Facebook, however, says that the Articles that have not been deemed as top news stories will still be collated using algorithms based on the user’s history, such as pages they follow, publications they subscribe to and news they have already interacted with.

“Our goal with the news tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience for people,” Facebook head of news partnerships Campbell Brown told media.

The comes at a time when Facebook has embarked on a series of initiatives to boost journalism, with traditional media organizations accusing it of benefitting financially from their hard work.

Internet platforms are dominating the internet advertising space making it difficult for established news organizations to transition what were very profitable print advertisements online. Facebook announced in January that it will invest $300 million over three years to support journalism, particularly local news organizations.

It has also funded fact-checking projects around the world, including Africa Check that has incorporated Kiswahili and other 13 African languages in a move to curb the spread of fake news.

According to Facebook insiders, the company will pay some publishers to license news content for the tab but Mathew Ingram, who writes about digital media for the Columbia Journalism Review, doesn’t expect that to trickle down to hard-up organizations that need it the most.

“The companies they are going to choose are ones already doing well I assume. It might give them a little extra cash but I don’t see it driving a huge amount of traffic,” Mathew Ingram said

Print journalism in the US is in free-fall as social media overtakes newspapers as the main news source for Americans.

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“The death of local news has such destructive effects for democrac.sty. It’s a complex issue that Facebook alone cannot fix,” said Young.

“Facebook is not a journalism company and so before working for Facebook I would want to see their commitment to ethical, robust journalism,” Said the 30-year-old Stephen Groves, who recently earned a master’s in journalism at New York University

When Buzzfeed cut 200 jobs in January, 29-year-old Emily Tamkin was let go from a position she had held for just a few months.

“I’m personally not cheered by the fact that Facebook is swooping in and hiring journalists. If that’s the silver lining then we have a very big cloud here,” Ms. Tamkin said


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Edward Genesis is a writer and commentator on politics, social fraud, Soccer, Human Interest stories and News. Follow him on Facebook & Twitter @EKmwanzo ✉ emwanzo20@gmail.com

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