Facebook announced Wednesday that it's launching its own journalism project, continuing its efforts to change the way media organisations work with the social network. The move could be seen as an extension of its vow earlier this year to crack down on fake news on the site.
The Facebook Journalism Project is made up of several smaller projects - each of which Facebook is working on with a variety of media partners on different projects, including The Washington Post, Fox News, Germany's BILD and Spain's El Pais.
In a company blog post provided to The Post ahead of time, Facebook said it will be "collaborating with news organizations to develop products, learning from journalists about ways we can be a better partner, and working with publishers and educators on how we can equip people with the knowledge they need to be informed readers in the digital age."
Facebook outlined 10 key points that it hopes to address with the project. They include working with news organisations on new storytelling formats and ways to present stories - which, in turn, will show up in users' news feeds. The company will host hackathons dedicated to news problems. It will work with journalists to teach them how to use Facebook for reporting, including how to verify eyewitness accounts of breaking news. Facebook is also putting out a call for local news outlets to be more involved on the social network, to give its users more information about the world immediately around them.
The social media network will also undertake some projects to help improve the media literacy of its users - a key suggestion that media scholars offered the site as it continues to grapple with the problem of misinformation.
Facebook's struggle with defining its place in the media world has played out publicly over the past several months, coming to a head just after the election when some raised questions about whether fake news articles passed around on the site could have influenced it.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg dismissed that possibility as "extremely unlikely" in the days after the election. But continued questions about Facebook and other tech firms' responsibility to vet news or curtail misinformation eventually led to Facebook announcing it would begin submitting stories reported as false to third-party fact-checking sites, and labeling stories that were found to be "disputed" for all its users.
The new project has the same philosophy as Facebook's announcement late last year that it felt it had a responsibility to reduce fake news on its site, said Justin Osofsky, Facebook's vice president of global operations and media partnerships. "This is, in some ways a continuation of those efforts," he said. "But it's bringing it together in a way that gives us more playback from publishers and journalists."
What, exactly, any of this will look like is yet to be determined. Wednesday's announcement is meant to spark discussions, Osofsky said, and lead to new partnerships. "This is us announcing a road map," he said. "We can't have all the answers."