Today, Facebook formally announced the new Facebook News tab. This new section of Facebook will deliver news articles in an effort to — and this is a direct quote from Facebook here — “strengthen democracy.”
Take that as you will.
If you rush off to the Facebook app you still totally have installed on your phone, you probably won’t find the Facebook News tab, though. The company is publically testing the new feature with only a select subset of its users, so it’s likely it won’t appear for you.
To be clear, this new tab will not replace the news articles you see in your regular Facebook feed. Those will still happen. However, this tab will be all about news stories (i.e. no status updates from your friends and family) and be curated to your interests. That curation will be controlled both by an algorithm as well as humans.
Additionally, the articles that appear in the Facebook News tab will need to meet certain requirements. First, the publisher of that article needs to be whitelisted on what’s called the News Page Index, which Facebook put together with professionals in the journalism industry. This means a “news” article written on some obscure blog won’t make it into the feed.
If we can't trust Facebook to deliver factual political ads, how can we trust it to deliver unbiased news?
On top of this, publishers can’t be whitelisted if they engage in unethical practices related to journalism, specifically things like spreading misinformation, clickbait, and violations of Facebook’s own community standards.
This all sounds well and good, but it’s hard to trust Facebook in this regard. Very recently, Facebook has been lambasted by the media for its refusal to alter or remove paid political ads that spread blatantly false information. United States presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren paid for an ad that claimed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is a Trump supporter in order to prove how easy it is for anyone to run a political ad that says pretty much anything they like.
Zuckerberg refuses to alter Facebook’s policy when it comes to these ads, so that makes a Facebook News aggregator seem fairly untrustworthy.
Still, it’s possible this could be a good thing. If Facebook sticks to its word and only delivers ethical, unbiased, fact-based journalism to its billions of users, that could help stem the tide of misinformation that’s plagued the world over the past few years. Time will tell.
Will you use the Facebook News tab? Will you trust it? Let us know in the poll below and then hit up the comments.