- Facebook is currently accepting applications for a “small team” of “seasoned” journalists to help curate its new News Tab plan, which some have compared to Apple News.
- News Tab will “provide a personalized, highly relevant experience for people,” Facebook’s head of news partnerships, Campbell Brown, said.
- Eric Schiffer told the DCNF that the announcement is “the single greatest potential for further biased news against conservatives” that will ultimately “benefit” Democrats.
Facebook plans to hire a “small team” of “seasoned” journalists from various outlets to curate news as part of its News Tab mobile app that will present relevant stories to users.
The journalists hired by Facebook will select breaking news and popular stories but won’t be “editing headlines, stories, writing content, etc.,” Facebook said in a Tuesday statement, adding that users will be able to see which stories have been curated.
“You’re witnessing the single greatest potential for further biased news against conservatives with Facebook’s announcement,” Eric Schiffer, Chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “This becomes a giant political issue where I think Democrats benefit.”
Donald Trump Jr. responded to Facebook’s announcement on Twitter, describing the move as Facebook “giving even more power and control to establishment corporate media hacks.”
Because what everyone really needs is @facebook giving even more power and control to establishment corporate media hacks. 🙄🙄🙄
Breitbart News: Facebook Hiring Corporate Media Veterans to Manually Curate ‘News Tab’https://t.co/ZVizsGAWq3
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 20, 2019
Companies ranging from ABC News, Dow Jones, The Washington Post and Bloomberg will be paid as much as $3 million to partner with Facebook in order for their content to be published on the app, The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 8. News Tab will begin a test with 200,000 users in October.
A Facebook spokesperson told Axios Tuesday that the company hopes its new app will change how millions of users get their news, as well as establish a better relationship between journalists and Facebook.
“This is a PR stunt to show the public that they can begin to consider trusting Facebook,” Schiffer said. “It’s a continued PR machine that will attempt to get people to re-think their view of Facebook at its core.”
“When you have scenarios with Facebook, who is already considered bias, further controlling the news, there will be a great danger in the roll-out of that and to conservatives’ desire for a level playing field,” he added. “You’re going to have many journalists who curse the sky because they’re going to get diminished access to the public.”
Facebook’s head of news partnerships, Campbell Brown, said in the statement that the company’s “goal with the News Tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience for people. The majority of stories people will see will appear in the tab via algorithmic selection.”
“To start, for the Top News section of the tab we’re pulling together a small team of journalists to ensure we’re highlighting the right stories,” he continued.
Schiffer argues, however, that there are already many cases of Facebook’s algorithms taking “unfair actions taken against patriotic Americans” and the move to curate stories “is likely going to be stocked with liberal journalists.”
Facebook’s requirements for the position are listed on the social media website as a “BA/BS degree or 4+ years of equivalent editorial experience, 5+ years of work experience, including experience in news and proven track record of editorial judgment, [and] experience with digital news.”
Facebook terminated its “Trending Topics” section, which was curated by contractors, in 2018 after being accused of bias.
“We learned a lot from Trending,” a Facebook executive told Axios. “This is a completely different product.”
Will Rinehart, American Action Forum’s Director of Technology and Innovation Policy, said the tech giant’s effort to curate news is to compete with Apple News.
“It also seems as though the company is trying to overcome its failures with the Trending Topics feature that was deprecated last year. Whether or not consumers like the product will take time. We should hold our criticisms until a substantive product is rolled out,” Rinehart added.
Schiffer also said the effort is to compete with Apple News, but “the thing that’s different about Apple News is that it focuses on categories, so if you are conservative, they’ll deliver conservative news. [Apple is] far less political in how they deliver news.”
The tech giant’s announcement comes just a day after it revealed China was creating Facebook groups and pages that were spreading misleading information about protests in Hong Kong.
In response to widespread pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, the Chinese government launched an online disinformation campaign comparing the protestors to members of ISIS and cockroaches, according to disclosures made by Twitter and Facebook https://t.co/6ntOFcB4Ls
— WIRED (@WIRED) August 19, 2019
It also faced backlash after the U.S. 2016 presidential election when it was discovered that Russian operatives had been creating fake accounts and pages that were posting partisan content in an attempt to effect U.S. politics.
Additionally, some Republicans have spoken out against the social media company for suppressing conservative platforms. In an effort to combat the issue, Facebook hired former Republican Arizona Sen. John Kyl to conduct “a review of potential anti-conservative bias at Facebook.” His findings were published on Tuesday.
Kyl and his team concluded that while Facebook’s “policies and their application have the potential to restrict free expression,” the Second Amendment “is integral to Facebook’s stated mission and a core value that underpins its Community Standards.”
“Facebook has recognized the importance of our assessment and has taken some steps to address the concerns we uncovered. But there is still significant work to be done to satisfy the concerns we heard from conservatives,” Kyl’s study continues.
Schiffer, however, told the DCNF that Facebook’s news initiative may be a step back.
“This lights the torch of war of who controls news today,” he said. “It creates a hail of fire against conservatives who want to receive news that isn’t tainted.”
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