It seems Facebook wants to be your only Newspaper replacing daily journals, tabloids and even Google News. On Thursday, social media giant Facebook announced the creation of FB Newswire, a news pagedevoted to reporting breaking news and allowing journalists and writers to access trustworthy news. “Today we’re excited to announce FB Newswire, a resource that will make it easier for journalists and newsrooms to find, share and embed newsworthy content from Facebook in the media they produce. Every day, news is made on Facebook. More than one billion people use our platform to discover, explore, and participate in news-making events around the world,” said FB News Global and Media Partnerships Director Andy Mitchell.
Facebook’s recent changes with “trending topics” its News Feed and Pages improvements indicate that the company has been headed in this direction for some time.
FB Newswire will be powered by Storyful, a platform acquired by News Corp last December in a $25 million deal. Storyful has had a track record in the past of verifying relevant information: a Ukrainian personnel carrier who started shooting on terrorists, an underwater robot tested before a mission to the South Korea ferry, and a selfie taken by an astronaut in outer space. These photos and stories were leaked by everyday journalists, but Storyful identified the initial leaks and verified the stories’ authenticity before publishing them. “In Storyful, we’re excited to have found a partner with a track record of understanding both the potential of the social web as a key resource for media as well as the tools that newsrooms need to utilize it,” said Mitchell.
How will FB Newswire distinguish itself from Twitter?
Twitter hasn’t gotten where it is in social media without hard work. The social media giant has made itself known for news reporting by the endless streams of news content a user can find on his or her Twitter page. Over time, news journalists can follow just about everyone important, finding so much news that it becomes overwhelming to read half of it.
Twitter’s problem of cluttered, unending news streams will be bested by Facebook’s control over which news reports are reputable and which ones aren’t. This means that Twitter will’ve to compete with Facebook – a company that now looks to offer a simplified yet relevant user experience.
As if this isn’t enough for which to applaud Facebook, Storyful will also out erroneous stories in FB Newswire by way of a #DailyDebunk post. This means that users of FB Newswire will get to see what stories and photos are fake and forged on a daily basis, rendering false news reports as criminal and causing them to lose social media attention as a result. When news reporters are forced to verify facts and pay attention to the truth, it will make them more reputable and enhance their reputation. Facebook is hoping the new FB Newswire will enhance its own reputation in coming days.
Control the News, control the stories: Facebook’s new reputation
Facebook’s off to a good start, and FB Newswire is a good thing if it de-clutters the amount of news (both true and artificial) that I encounter on a daily basis. There’s a problem, however: Facebook’s control over the news. It’s true what they say: if you control the news, you control minds. This has been the case in a number of situations worldwide, but some that come to mind involve the BP oil spill in 2010 where some individuals on camera said that the traces of oil in the Gulf of Mexico had disappeared and no longer existed. Unfortunately, it’s 4 years later, but recent documentaries on the 2010 oil spill say otherwise. The people of the Gulf still work, live, and play in dangerous waters.
Facebook isn’t responsible for the Gulf Coast oil spill, but the company will have to face the inevitable dilemma of delivering trustworthy news while being in charge of deciding what is reliable and what isn’t. Will articles that criticize Facebook be scrapped from the list of content available via FB Newswire? That is the question that some analysts have in mind. Facebook says that the new system is set up to provide truthful reporting, but what if Facebook attempts to covertly renege on its promise before the FCC that it would honor WhatsApp privacy laws? Would Facebook want this kind of story to appear in FB Newswire? Something about this question tells me I highly doubt it.
Meanwhile, Facebook recently acquired fitness startup Moves, a Finnish company founded in 2012 with the goal of providing “an all-day activity diary for smartphones,” according to the Moves Facebook acquisition announcement.