This week, Facebook announced the launch of Facebook News in the US. Facebook News is a dedicated section on Facebook for news. The section will feature stories by publications preapproved to appear in the section by Facebook itself.
You can read more about how publishers (in the US for now) qualify to have their stories featured in this new section.
What we found interesting is a quick summary by TechCrunch of Facebook’s history with journalism:
It’s impossible to properly cover Facebook News without noting how the company has had a long and troubled history with regard to how it handles news. Years ago, Facebook offered a short list of trending stories across its network. But it later fired the human editors who curated that news, and its algorithms immediately posted fake news to the untended list. That feature was removed in June 2018.
Facebook has also over the years attempted to serve publishers with poor results.
It hosted “Instant Articles” that restricted advertising, subscriptions and the recirculation modules publishers relied on, leading many to abandon the feature. It touted the “shift to video,” but inflated its video metrics, and then pulled back on paying publishers, wiping out some businesses. In 2018, it decided to prioritize friends and family posts in its News Feed, shrinking referrals to news outlets.
Then there’s the not insignificant matter of Facebook’s role in spreading fake news — including for years the distribution of un-fact-checked links published by biased organizations. Its platform has also been used for the spread of propaganda and disinformation. It has been called out as being too favorable to one side or the other.