- Facebook’s forthcoming news section will have experienced journalists on staff but be mostly algorithmically driven.
- As Facebook tries to restore its credibility, the social network is taking a page from Apple News, which has gotten credit for being fake-news-free due to its human editorial team.
- Facebook is also trying to show it’s learned from the experience of its short-lived Trending section, which was staffed by contractors and was criticized for being ideologically driven.
- This time, Facebook is hiring a small team of fewer than 10 journalists to pick top national news stories for the section — still less than a third of the 30 or so on the Apple News editorial team.
- Facebook’s team is expected to be limited to picking breaking news and top stories, while the articles people see will be mostly driven by factors like pages they follow and news they already share or interact with.
- Facebook is still trying to get publishers like The New York Times and The Washington Post to sign on ahead of a rollout starting in late October in the US.
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Facebook’s forthcoming news section will have human editors but be mostly algorithmically driven, the social network is set to announce on Aug. 20.
Facebook is revealing more about the section, called Top News (for now), which is part of an effort to restore its credibility. Facebook is taking a page from Apple News, which has gotten praise for being fake-news-free thanks to its human editorial team that numbers about 30 under a star editor, New York magazine vet Lauren Kern, and is known for having regular contact with editors at the publications it draws from.
The Facebook team for the upcoming tab is expected to number fewer than 10, each of whom will have a few years of journalism experience. Facebook expects to launch the tab in late October. The team will report to Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships, but is meant to be independent of Facebook employees who are in charge of signing publishers up to provide their news to the section.
According to The Wall Street Journal and our sources, Facebook reps told news executives they would pay as much as $3 million a year for three years to license headlines and previews of their articles.
Facebook seems to want to avoid the mistakes of its short-lived Trending news section, which was staffed by contractors and was criticized for being ideologically driven.
Still, the new Top News section will be mostly algorithmically driven. Facebook — which has resisted the idea that it’s a media company — will use the small team to pick only the top national news stories for the section. Facebook sees the journalists’ role as limited to picking breaking news and top stories.
The other sections of the tab will be driven by what Facebook thinks people are interested in, based on factors like pages they follow and news they already share or interact with.
Much is still up in the air
Facebook is still trying to get publishers like The New York Times and The Washington Post to sign on ahead of a rollout starting in late October in the US.
There are some hurdles. Facebook will have to convince some publishers that the news tab will get a sizable audience, given news isn’t the primary reason most people use Facebook, and that Facebook will stay committed to the tab, since news isn’t core to Facebook’s ad business.
The publishers Facebook is pursuing most aggressively tend to be ones that are more successful and don’t need Facebook’s money as much as others do.
Facebook is also offering to pay some publishers more than others, which could result in pushback.
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