5 Ideas That Emerged From Facebook Journalism Project Hackathons

The hackathons drew more than 350 participants from product, strategy and engineering teams at news organizations

The Facebook Journalism Project initiative hosted four hackathons with the news industry over the past few months, but what came out of those events?

Piyush Mangalick, who works on partner engineering for the social network, detailed five key ideas that emerged from the four hackathons—held in New York; London; Hamburg, Germany; and Paris—which drew more than 350 participants from product, strategy and engineering teams at news organizations.

  1. Helping people see more perspectives: HuffPost head of product Julia Beizer said, “The filter bubble is obviously a very real problem affecting our communities and even our civil discourse. The hackathon gave us the opportunity to brainstorm with people from around the journalism communities on experiences we could create for readers that would help them break through.”
  2. Reducing bias by analyzing the sentiment of stories: IBM emerging technology specialist Dan Cunnington said, “The Facebook Journalism Project hackathon gave us the opportunity to explore how IBM Watson could be utilized to provide users with a balanced viewpoint of news stories across publishers, reducing the impact of bias in the media industry. IBM Watson focused on emotional sentiments such as fear, joy, anger, sadness and disgust to compare and contrast different articles and social media content. The application developed during the hackathon has shown how IBM Watson can quickly analyze content from a variety of different sources to provide a meaningful insight to the user.”
  3. Leverage reader engagement and Facebook data to support reporting and monetization: dpa-newslab developer and journalist Martin Virtel said, “Most of dpa-newslab’s customers see in Facebook a cornerstone of their audience development strategies, so the Facebook Journalism Project hackathon in Hamburg provided an ideal environment for getting together with some of them and working on a specific initiative to drive user engagement with their content on the platform. Facebook’s staff at the hackathon in Hamburg helped us a lot with fresh insights and ideas on how to achieve this.”
  4. Recommendation widget based on Facebook Reactions: Berliner Morgenpost product manager Patrick Liesener said, “The Facebook Journalism Project hackathon was a valuable experience for all participants of [parent company] Funke Mediengruppe. That we have won the hackathon with our recommendation widget fills us with gratitude and makes us proud. In the future, our readers will be able to understand debates and opinions on Facebook much better.
  5. CrowdTangle-powered Messenger bot: CosaVotra partner Laurent Kretz said, “During the hackathon, we created a Messenger bot based on the CrowdTangle API [application-programming interface] called BuzzBot [now available on Facebook]. It allows users to ping CrowdTangle on the main media sources in a few countries. Since the hackathon, we’ve rolled out our bot on a wider scale, become avid CrowdTangle users for our prospects and clients and are starting to push our top clients on big media toward building bots and Instant Articles platforms.