Come hell or high water, Facebook is not letting go of the notion that news stories must and will always be “curated” for its users, one way or another.
In the past, this was done exclusively by algorithms picking and choosing what Facebook’s more than two billion users worldwide should see – all the while serving the company’s own monetary purpose, and locking people into virtual echo-chambers.
But now, Facebook is busy trying to appear as if it’s doing something about the avalanche of criticism and threats coming down on it from every political and media corner. Introducing humans as moderators seems to have a reassuring effect. And so the company decided to add some humans into the mix of its few features – News Tab in the mobile app. The humans’ job? To “curate” content there.
Some previous forays into this territory include Facebook’s Instant Articles, the once hyped but now largely fizzled out attempt to lure publishers away from their own sites and onto Facebook.
The News Tab would contain news stories that are “personalized” and that Facebook decides to represent “highly relevant experience” for users – and it won’t interfere with the News Feed.
From citing Facebook’s head of news partnerships as saying that journalists would be making sure “the right stories” are highlighted- the New York Times article goes straight to the spread of misinformation, and of course, the Russians.
This newspaper of record states as a proven fact that Russians not only “used Facebook in 2016 to disseminate false (previously known as, fake) news” – but also that they have influenced the outcome of the American presidential election that year.
Now, how does the News Tab feature tie into all this?
“Facebook is now working to restore its reputation as a place where people can find trusted sources of information. The company has scrambled to hire security researchers and third-party content reviewers to deal with the proliferation of bad content,” the New York Times writes.
But no, really – why News Tab, and why now? The answer may be that Facebook, having turned its News Feed into a closed silo for “personal interactions,” continues to look for other ways to cater to publishers and advertisers.
The business hope behind News Tab now seems to be “striking content-sharing deals in which the company would license and display articles from partners inside its mobile app.”
And, if the report is to be trusted, Facebook is willing to spend big to bring in select publishers.