Here’s the answer to Facebook’s content controversies
Pay news organizations to do what they do best.
Over the past six months, Facebook has been mired in one journalism scandal after another. One day, they’re doing too much editorially. The next, too little. For all the thinkpieces mulling the question, “Is Facebook a media company or a technology company?” I’ve seen none that solve Facebook’s problem.
Here’s an idea: Why not transform Facebook’s Trending Section into the 2017 version of a newsstand, with a mix of content from trustworthy publishers?
The trending section would include a handful of headlines from national news publishers, who are paid by Facebook to curate the Trending section. The mix of publishers, like Snapchat’s Discover section, would be selected by Facebook but vetted to be trustworthy news outfits. A publisher’s standing as a verified Trending partner would be subject to removal if that trust is broken by wrong or misleading reporting.
And the best part? Facebook could designate proportion of the Trending section to be dedicated to local news, depending on a user’s location.
This would solve the publishers’ issue of compensation and declining revenue, and solve Facebook’s problem of editorial bias — all editorial decisions would be made by established news organizations. It would also do a lot to bolster struggling local news operations around the world. And finally, it might be the first step to rebuilding the trust in media that has been eroding as hyper-partisan and fake news proliferates.
Now will someone please tell me why this isn’t the answer to the Facebook Journalism Conundrum of 2016?