The New York Times is reporting that Facebook is advertising to recruit a whole team of journalists to help curate the dedicated news section on its website.
The recruitment ad specifies that this project is going to be about credible content. With 43% of US adults currently getting part of their news content from the platform, Facebook's ambition here is one of becoming known as a curator of trusted news sources.
In an interview last April with Mathias Döpfner, who's the CEO of German publishing house Axel Springer, Mark Zuckerberg revealed his plan for the news tab, and he spoke of 'high quality, trusted sources.'
The idea seems to be to find news and have journalists curate it to maintain a trustworthy level of quality. The aim will be to avoid the same accusations of bias, which happened with the Trending News section in the past. Although there is an element of history repeating here, Facebook may have learned lessons from the past by having in-house journalists to handle the fresh News Tab, rather than contracted curators, might be a sign of that.
It's certainly not a bad start, according to The Information, Facebook has hired Anne Kornblut - Pulitzer winner and former editor of The Washington Post - to help lead efforts to hire editors:
|"Facebook plans to use algorithms to curate most of the stories in the forthcoming news tab, which is slated to debut before the end of the year. Human editors will select breaking and "top" news stories."|
|"One of the things that's really worked over the last year or two is we've launched [Facebook Watch] for video, where people who weren't getting all the video they wanted in News Feed could go to a place that's a dedicated space to get video. Because that has started to really grow quickly, we've decided that there really is an opportunity to do something like that with news as well."|
One thing is for certain, whatever Facebook is planning, they're not going to be leaving it entirely to the algorithms to edit. A move echoed recently by Twitter.
Twitter's new topic streams will also be human-curated. There seems to be a widespread move away from algorithm dependence when it comes to the important business of making sure that bias doesn't creep into a system, and at even worse, that outright lies don't appear as credible news.
I think it says a lot that Facebook is learning lessons from the past and ditching algorithmic curation of news. The fact other platforms are doing it too speaks volumes. Are we seeing the limit of what algorithms are capable of here?