Facebook wants to be everything.
Lately the world of Facebook has been full of remarkable happenings. In a period of time as short as three months, Facebook has managed to purchase numerous companies and services, which, at the first glance, have very little to do with the world of social networks. Billions of dollars were spent by Facebook to acquire WhatsApp, a mobile instant messaging app, Oculus VR, a virtual reality technology, and Moves, a fitness tracking app. While the expansion of Facebook has been generally occurring by the method of consuming other companies via spending of massive amounts of money, recently Mark Zuckerberg’s company has decided to create something on its own, which led to the introduction of FB Newswire, Facebook’s own news service.
According to The Guardian article called “Facebook and Storyful launch FB Newswire” by Natalie Gil, FB Newswire is “a resource for journalists [that] aims to make it easier to find, share and embed newsworthy content from the social network”. The main function of FB Newswire is to aggregate the content, which is publicly shared by billions of Facebook individual users and organizations, verify the content on its eligibility and present the verified information in the way easily accessible for the journalists. In order to make the verification process as effective as possible, FB Newswire was developed in cooperation with Storyful, a social news agency, which “discovers, verifies, acquires and distributes timely video and user-generated content, including original photos, videos and status updates”. Storyful’s managing editor supported the Storyful’s qualifications in news verification, claiming that “Storyful’s discovery technology and expert journalists will bring a new layer of verification, expert curation and community engagement to content on [Facebook].” To point out the usefulness of Storyful in creation of unbiased real news, Robert Thompson, the chief executive of News Corp, mentioned: “Storyful is bringing traditional journalistic values to contemporary video, separating the substantial from the superficial and the real from the fake”.
Although the aim of FB Newswire to create verified news content, as well as the idea to gather this content from Facebook users, who are the ones to experience first-hand the news in various locations of the world, seems very interesting and noble, not everyone is as excited about it as the above-mentioned representatives of Storyful and News Corp. One of those expressing skepticism regarding FB Newswire is the famous Russian-American journalist Vladimir Posner. As Posner noted on his official webpage,”This[FB Newswire] will be the same as Facebook, where everyone expresses his/her own opinion, very often a not objective one”. Further expressing his concerns regarding the objectivity of journalism, Posner claims that he lacks the full, objective and honest information, something that he would call “the real journalism”. Talking about the FB Newswire, he claims that there is no guarantee it will be more objective than any other modern news services. Posner further adds that in general everyone has forgotten about the objectivity and tries to push their own opinions, as if they are the only right ones.
Indeed, while Facebook has the means to collect the information posted by its users more effectively than any news agency, this is certainly not a proof that the information will be objective and unbiased. In many cases the information publicized on social media about the breaking events in various geographical locations is raw, subjective and, very often, incredibly hard, if not impossible to verify. While the Storyful claims to have all the necessary tools to verify information, so do various information verification departments at major news agencies, which, however, does not prevent them from presenting events falsely every once in a while. The concern of FB Newswire being an unbiased news source also does not disappear due to the fact that Facebook will be the one selecting, filtering and presenting the news content to the world, meaning that technically they will have the ability to present the information most suitable and convenient for Facebook’s interests.
Surely, it would be silly to assume that Facebook launches its own news service only due to their “noble” desire of providing true news to the world. Given the recent history of Facebook’s acquisitions, mentioned in the beginning of the post, it seems that the creation of FB Newswire may very well be explained by Facebook’s current intensive market expansion, which would secure their leadership role in the media world. However, if this is the real reason of Facebook’s own news service, it makes the whole FB Newswire project and its presentation as a trustworthy news source very controversial, doubtful and hard to trust.
For the detailed description of FB Newswire, please visit: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/apr/24/facebook-storyful-fb-newswire
For Vladimir Posner’s opinion on FB Newswire, please visit: http://pozneronline.ru/2014/04/7731/ (NOTE: The page is in Russian, however Google Translate does a fairly good job delivering the main point of the content)
A featured image by Flickr user James Yu