In a blog post on Wednesday, Facebook laid out a fairly elaborate plan to promote better media reporting and consumption. Called the Facebook Journalism Project, it includes a local news initiative, new storytelling formats and fighting hoaxes, among other items. With the current debate about whether President-elect Donald Trump's reported problems with Russia are real or fake, the announcement is timely.
"We will be collaborating with news organizations to develop products, learning from journalists about ways we can be a better partner, and working with publishers and educators on how we can equip people with the knowledge they need to be informed readers in the digital age," wrote Fidji Simo, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company's director of product.
After an election year of fake news controversies on social media platforms like Facebook, it's noteworthy that Simo said her company wants to forge closer ties with news companies in general. It also wants to educate its users toward "news literacy" by planning to work with organizations such as the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
"We recently announced improvements on our platform to further reduce the spread of news hoaxes—including ways for people to report them more easily and new efforts to disrupt the financial incentives for spammers," Simo added. "In addition, we launched a program to work with third-party fact checking organizations that are signatories of Poynter's International Fact Checking Code of Principles to identify hoaxes on Facebook. This problem is much bigger than any one platform, and it's important for all of us to work together to minimize its reach."
Most interestingly, perhaps, is her digital platform's interest in working with local news and independent media. "This initiative is in its earliest stages; we want to talk about it now so that we can get as much input from newsrooms and journalists as possible, working together to shape what local news on Facebook could look like," Simo said.