Facebook is giving human-curated journalism another shot, after an infamous
failure in the aftermath of charges of political bias. A team of about 10 people will be in charge of choosing high-quality articles that will appear at the top of the News Tab.
Why it Matters:
Following in the footsteps of Apple News in curating quality journalism in an approach that The New York Times called “radical”: humans over machines. The Facebook curatorial team will consist journalists spread across the U.S. and London, who will select content of different topics relevant to users, which will appear in a section of the News Tab called “Top News.”
Most of the stories appearing in the news tab will be algorithmically sorted and
ranked — but training those algorithms to personalize content to individual users takes an enormous amount of data and time. Facebook is making the switch to hiring
journalists to curate and surface the most important and pertinent news stories, in order to achieve this.
The News Tab is part of the company’s effort to highlight real-time journalism and
news and will exist outside of the News Feed, Facebook’s never-ending stream of
status updates and friend requests. This new approach comes on the heels of years of
issues not only with charges of bias but also for spreading misinformation and fake
news. Recently, the company has also scrambled to hire security researchers and third- party content reviewers to deal with the proliferation of bad content, hoping to restore its reputation as a source for relevant, quality and trusted information.
Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships, said, “Our goal with the
News Tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience for people.” The job postings for this team are active, with the main responsibility described as “to curate credible content from a diverse set of publishers covering the most important stories of the day, including breaking news, daily and weekly news events.”
The Bottom Line:
Time will tell if this move resonates with Facebook users and builds back some
lost trust in the platform. Facebook has also announced that it will begin licensing
publishers’ content for the News Tab starting this fall and is reportedly in discussions
with publishers like The New York Times, ABC News, Dow Jones, The Washington
Post, and Bloomberg.