Just a few days ago, Facebook launched a test of its news tab, designed to grant users “more control over the stories they see.” Users are able to browse news by topic, personalize their news preferences, hide publishers, articles, or topics, and see “top news” selected by “a team of journalists,” according to a release statement on Facebook’s website.
[N]eed to abide by Facebook’s Publisher Guidelines, these include a range of integrity signals in determining product eligibility, including misinformation — as identified based on third-party fact checkers — community standards violations (e.g., hate speech), clickbait, engagement bait and others. We’ll continually check Pages’ integrity status to ensure eligibility criteria is consistently being met. Lastly, they must serve a sufficiently large audience, with different thresholds for the four categories of publishers.
The registration guidelines ask that pages:
Primarily create journalism that reports on current events or timely information, and that is not parody or satire.
Cite sources for published facts or information
Provide transparent information about reporters and editorial staff (eg: bylines with full names or a staff directory)
Include dates/timestamps on published content
Primarily publish content that is not user-generated or aggregated from other websites
But Facebook’s news tab already raises a few questions – will they come under fire for amplifying some voices at the expense of others? And will publishers become even more dangerously beholden to the aggregator that makes them “essentially ghostwriters for the Facebook News destination”? As Josh Constine of TechCrunch notes, Facebook has shown itself to be a “fair weather friend” to news outlets already, diminishing the presence of news in users feeds in order to shown more “friends and family” content last year – and as a result, brutally slashed referrals for many outlets.
Only time will tell.