Facebook rolled out a new tab, Facebook News, today which will show a personalised selection of news content to some users in the United States.
Facebook News will give these test users a “dedicated place for news”, as it tries to bridge the gap between the personalised experience of users and reports it thinks people should be aware of.
“News gives people more control over the stories they see, and the ability to explore a wider range of their news interests, directly within the Facebook app,” the company said in a release today. “It also highlights the most relevant national stories of the day. News articles will continue to appear in News Feed as they do today.”
” We talked to news organisations about what they’d like to see included in a news tab, how their stories should be presented and what analytics to provide.”– Facebook
In recent times, controversies have swirled around the spread of “fake news” on social media sites, particularly Facebook, and growing friction between the site and some publishers who have asked for compensation for sharing their content while lamenting the slow cannibalisation of their audiences.
For publishers, at least one of those concerns will be addressed as Facebook will likely pay them millions of dollars for licensing fees annually. Among the news organisations already signed on are CNN, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.
The company reportedly spent months developing the feature which will be managed in part by a team of journalists selecting “Today’s Stories”. It said the journalists will have editorial independence and select stories based on guidelines which can be viewed on their website. “We talked to news organisations about what they’d like to see included in a news tab, how their stories should be presented and what analytics to provide.”
Facebook said users will be able to personalise the tab based on news they read, share and follow; select “Topics” for a more in-depth look at various issues and also use “Controls” to hide articles, topics and publishers they do not want to see.
“Regarding personalisation, publishers worry that machine learning has limits and they’re right. We have progress to make before we can rely on technology alone to provide a quality news destination. We also aim to serve both people and news publishers, and not just the big national players. We want new forms of journalism in the digital age, including individual, independent journalism, to flourish. So we will continue to expand the algorithmic selection of stories driving the majority of Facebook News.”
The key topics to be shared were determined from findings of a survey done with more than 100,000 people at the start of the year.
The initial testing phase will last several months before it is rolled out to all users.