This opening line is just all wrong. News isn't about 'what you want to see', writing news to garner clicks is basically another way of saying 'our news reporting is fundamentally biased'.
Real journalism isn't entertainment. But, I get it, real journalism doesn't sell, people don't have time to understand world problems, don't care much about corruption unless it's dramatic, don't care about plain boring facts.
Facebook understands that in order to own a market they have to spoon-feed it what it wants. Curate an audience of idle minds and feed them what they measurably want.
This play to 'local news' is simply a tool to advance their own agenda, they want to own local news and help you feel that FB is all warm and 'local' to your needs.
Your 'local' world-view, sponsored by Facebook. It's kind of sick really.
This only exists in the minds of people who've never seen news and reporting get made.
These decisions are made every day by the editors-in-chief and publishers of large multinational news conglomerates, and this ultimately makes these positions very powerful. It's why Rupert Murdoch owns so many news/media properties and why people say the Fox news network is biased.
The editors at the NYT are famous for being more 'active' than at smaller newspapers - instead of assigning beats and checking submissions they request specific pieces and plan narratives that encompass multiple pieces. It doesn't mean their output is dishonest or even necessarily misleading, but it certainly affects what stories get covered and how.
For that matter, one of the things I value about ProPublica is that their narrative-building is unusually open - they organize by topic instead of newspaper-style sections and publish meta pieces on how they choose and research their stories. When the topic is something like 'algorithmic bias', it's far more forthright to say "we went looking fo examples and here are some we found" than to run pieces in isolation and imply whatever company is under discussion is uniquely villainous.
There are things to object to about Facebook's move here, but I'm deeply frustrated by this idea that objective journalism is some relic of the pre-internet days. News of all sorts gets made for people, by people. Without recognizing that, we just get these bland calls for 'real journalism' that don't help us look at specifics like the dangers of conglomerates or the negative incentives of monetizing on views or clickouts.
Throwing in Murdoch and Fox News isn't helping your argument either. I'd put Murdoch up there as one of the key people who have actively sought to abuse journalism for political favour and personal gain. I just don't see how that is right.
BBC does include the occasional fun story of little real news value (ie the pet raccoon who got into the pot brownies) but this liberty is taken seriously. It never detracts from the real news articles.
It's the same for me with tagesschau.de and Deutschlandfunk.
But, I will not knock a company for wanting to maximize profits. They want their users to want to use their platform. If I owned a social media, or any product really, I would want to do everything I can to keep them coming back. I feel like as long as it isn't illegal, and done with best practices (ethically and morally) then that is what a free market is about. Should a competitor arise and do it better then That would be fantastic! Markets thrive through competition and freedom of choice. But as it stands there is not a whole lot of competition state side.
I don't agree with a lot that Facebook, or Mark, does. But I have respect for them from strictly a business point of view for staying above water as long as they have. I just wish there was a viable competitor.
This statement only exists in a vacuum. The only way you can truthfully make this claim is if you can put absolutely anything inside the blank in the following sentence:
"I will not knock a company for wanting to maximize profits, even if they ______"
> If I owned a social media, or any product really, I would want to do everything I can to keep them coming back.
Again, you should be able to place absolutely anything in the blanks here and still believe in your statement:
"I would want to do everything I can to keep them coming back, even _______"
> I feel like as long as it isn't illegal
Slavery was legal for a very long time, and had its own "best practices".
> Should a competitor arise and do it better then That would be fantastic!
Yes, what this world needs is a cutthroat surveillance complex even more smart and ruthless than Facebook.
> But I have respect for them from strictly a business point of view for staying above water as long as they have.
Facebook hasn't even been around for two decades. My grandmother's small business has been around longer than that, and she doesn't have a board of advisors.
> I just wish there was a viable competitor.
This entire argument feels like a strawman. No one is saying Facebook needs a competitor. People are saying Facebook is too powerful. Any viable competitor would thus also be too powerful.
I do believe a line should be drawn regarding the reach of any company. It was why I left Facebook in the first place, because yes I considered them too powerful. Not only technology wise but playing a too powerful role in my own personal life. But then I figured the 20+ years I have already spent on the internet has already garnered a healthy data profile on me and just dropping the one service wasn't going to dent that too much. So I came back to keep in contact while now minimizing my time spent on there.
When I mention competitors I am thinking of a company that closely provides a lot of the same functionality as Facebook but without the censoring, surveillance, exploiting of its users. But, even if one existed the only way that would work is if people moved to it. I think it is entirely possible for that to happen. But like you said, who is to say down the road they won't take the same turn that Facebook did?
Its a risk that will always exist on these type of services. One thing remains is that there will always be a demand for socializing / connectivity.
Comparing Facebook to slavery is a bit of a stretch. I think we as a people now have a better understanding of our inherent rights and where boundaries should be. The problem lies in the fact that a majority of the people do not care or acknowledge being the product of a company.
I'm not sure what else to say other than I believe that everyone and every business should have a market that they can succeed in. You're grandmother probably does so because she treats people right. Makes them feel welcome and listens to their concerns and requests in whatever it is that she does. The same should go for larger corporations. They should listen to their users feedback and provide them with what they are wanting. Whether or not these things should even exist is not an argument I am qualified to explore.
Which is exactly why I explained that your claim only existed in a vacuum. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don't say "I will not knock a company for wanting to maximize profits" in the context of Facebook trying to create a larger echo chamber and control local news consumption if you don't mean it. That has nothing to do with running flyers.
> When I mention competitors I am thinking of a company that closely provides a lot of the same functionality as Facebook but without the censoring, surveillance, exploiting of its users
The larger arc of this conversation is that Facebook shouldn't be allowed to do certain things. Another Facebook clone in the wild only increases the odds that more than one company will try to completely subsume your digital life and influence your thoughts and conversations, it does nothing to address the above problem and is irrelevant to the conversation. Here lies the straw man.
> Comparing Facebook to slavery is a bit of a stretch.
I agree. But I obviously didn't do that. I was clearly making a statement about the fact that there is no basis for the belief that the laws in a country reflect what is actually right and wrong.
There was no comparison between Facebook and anything. I'll chalk that up to a misunderstanding rather than another straw man argument.
> I'm not sure what else to say other than I believe that everyone and every business should have a market that they can succeed in.
A lot of people disagree with you. With the idea that legislation should be business-first instead of people-first. Because that is the ultimate eventuality of such a system.
We end up with the situation we now have in America where corporations run rampant across our human rights, destroy the environment and cause mass extinctions, lie and steal from our pockets, pay absurdly less taxes than they are supposed to, breach our privacy and sell our transactional history for a buck fifty, buy overwhelming majorities of local news stations, implant reporters, displace native cultures in order to build oil pipelines, engage in economically-motivated paramilitary operations all over the world, support oppressive regimes and the dismantling of democracy everywhere south of the border, etc etc etc.
Your Candyland world where businesses listen to users, users who are educated enough to engage in serious conversations with Facebook's support about major technological and socioeconomic consequences of their platform, and these businesses respond in a moral fashion, flourishing in their free markets, where scarcely a law exists which puts a dent in their bottom line, inevitably ends in an apocalyptic wasteland.
A company is just a group of people with a common goal. Nothing magically transforms it into some other entity with legislative preference. Claiming that a group of people with a common goal should get legislative preference over a singular individual (which is required if you believe in free market capitalism) is just absurd, and the consequences are incredibly obvious: the strong will bully the weak, groups will bully individuals, companies will take advantage of individuals if the individuals are not legally protected from certain kinds of "business".
Facebook playing algorithmic mind games with people of all ages to keep them hooked with the goal of maximizing profits is no different than cigarette companies marketing to children with the goal of maximizing profits.
(You might argue with Milton Friedman, that the free market should be allowed to provide addictive goods. This may well be true, but there's no D.A.R.E for social media; there are also very few non-social media users you might compare with social media users for reference, as you might for potheads and cokeheads.)
No reason to cheer on a company to profits at the expense of the society that made that company possible and you have to live in, then they have no incentive at all to do the right thing.
I won't knock a tiger for wanting to eat meat, but I'm also not going to nod along sagely as it stalks me through the underbrush without at least complaining about it.
There are multiple meanings of the word 'want'. There is 'want' in the sense of what people will click on, which we have learned is not always good. But that doesn't mean that what people say that they want is similarly toxic.
For instance, if you ask me what i'd like to have for lunch today, i'll say "a nice healthy salad". But if you put a delicious burrito in front of me, I will eat that burrito instead. Does that mean I didn't want the salad? No. It means that preference is not a unitary thing. Assuming that Facebook investigated the question of "what do our users want" with this nuanced understanding of preference, and interrogated their users "higher wants" (articulated preference) rather than their "lower wants" (revealed preference), I think that line is ok.
FaceBook makes money from advertising, whatever it takes to get you to stick around and look at ads is going to be the 'news' they are most motivated to present. Do we have any other reason to believe otherwise?
They have practically monopolized news distribution, helped to destroy the business model of an important social service and now they would like to make up for it by giving a fraction of the money back?
For how they're helping, it's really hard to get people to care about websites. People as a whole just don't care. They don't want to visit your website. So we publish our stories and share them to Facebook. We get about a 10% click through of people who saw the story, which is better than we'd do without publishing to Facebook.
On the other hand, our biggest draw is the event calendar, organizing all of the city and business events into one local calendar. People visit for the events, and then also click on news headlines they find interesting. Up until April 2018, we got this event data from the Facebook events API and linked it all back to Facebook if people wanted more details. A win-win I think. In April 2018, they shut off the events API with zero warning. So these public events from businesses who want people to attend their events, events which are visible by people who are not even logged into Facebook, are now considered private data by Facebook and no longer part of their API.
The big draw of aggregating them is that people see a curated list of good events that are actually near them: in a small town, just clicking Discover on Facebook events shows you mostly stuff from the big cities nearby. It takes a few clicks to get to events actually happening in the small town itself. We still have it, but we have to type it all by hand every week, which leaves less time for writing stories, talking to story leads and city officials and customers, selling ads, you know the actual "local news" part of the business.
Facebook, if you're reading this and want to help local news: turn the public events API back on. A local band playing at my local brewery is not private information, it is the definition of "things that should be shared".
I haven't explored more of the popular avenues for this though, things like "if the mouse moves to close the tab, show a pop up asking for a signup". It might convert but it's not something I'm comfortable doing at this point.
When I asked Facebook support, they gave me two options: direct users to the Facebook Local app (bypassing my site), or have every business I wanted to collect event data from log into my site and store their user access token, and that would give me permission to collect their events. This token needs to be re-upped every so often, so now I'm asking hundreds of people to log into my site every month just to keep their events populating. Most of the business owners can barely use Facebook to begin with, it's just a non-starter.
According to a report in "The Australian" she is quoted to have allegedly said "We will help you revitalise journalism... in a few years the reverse looks like I’ll be holding your hands with your dying business like in a hospice" and "We are not interested in talking to you about your traffic and referrals anymore. That is the old world and there is no going back – Mark wouldn’t agree to this"
Then Facebook denied that this happened.
So to summarize:
- Facebook is accused of not doing enough to combat fake news
- Facebook hires Campbell Brown to be a point person to deal with the fake news situation
- A newspaper reports that Campbell Brown allegedly tried to push them around
- Facebook says this is fake news
Neither of the pages they link to in this announcement actually states what makes this worth $1000/mo rather than the $25/mo Wordpress normally charges. In fact I don't see literally anything describing what you get with Newspack at all.
>we’re seeing a need for an inexpensive platform
Is $1000/mo "inexpensive" compared to their normal price of $25/mo? I'm extremely interested in understanding what this actually is, but I just read 5 articles from various sites and none of them actually say what Wordpress is offering that's worth $1000-$2000 PER MONTH.
FB gets a lot of flak for fake news and then decides to invest in local news? Why not in institutions that set the standard for journalism and bring accountability such as Pro Publica?
That said, $300M isn't nearly enough to even mitigate the damage Facebook does to American civic life simply by virtue of being a data-mining, misinformation spreading behemoth.
Their business model is at cross purposes with the ideal of having an informed citizenry. The entire point of marketing and advertising is to construct a reality in which people are motivated to buy what you're selling. It is utterly indifferent to truth.
You can't have a medium whose every design pattern is geared towards empowering bullshit artists and fostering susceptibility to said bullshit and then just try to paper it over by throwing some cash in the direction of "local journalism." Seriously, $300M is the equivalent of spare change found between couch cushions for Facebook. This is nothing. This is just image laundering.
You get to pick two: fast, cheap, and good/true. If it is fast and cheap it is fake. If it is cheap and true it will take time to attain. If it is true and fast, it won't be cheap to get the information.
Local newsrooms are too many to thoroughly corrupt as easily as a national (or in the case of FB, international) media system.
I'm not sure your "pick 2 of 3" is valid here. Do you have actual examples to support your hypothesis?
Local news is even more beholden to big local advertisers who dictate coverage. So few people actually care about local political news that even if you threw resources at it, you would not find that many people who cared enough to pay attention to it. C-SPAN's ratings aren't as good as almost any other cable network you can think of, for example, and the same theme is repeated in local news. People care much more about things like real estate, crime, arts&leisure, and fluffy health coverage.
One thing you may not know is that they publish their full financials, in accordance with the mission statement around transparency. You can see their full 2017 finances here: https://assets.propublica.org/2017-Financial-Statements-for-... (and you can see they are financially conservative, but are very much in need of funding to support their operations).
I have no connection to them other than admiration for how they are operated and their mission.
I was responding to specific point in your comment. They don't have a huge trust fund, they have a public budget. They don't run a deficit, but they have areas they would invest in if they had more donations. If they ceased getting donations, they would not be able to operate.
To the point of this article, I think Facebook has approximately zero credibility in this area, whether they donate to local news companies or anyone else. They have done as much as anyone to kill local news (by moving the content into the newsfeed as by creating bad metrics that caused many news companies to pivot to video content).
https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/data-lords-the-real-sto... is an interesting article from a small media company if it's interesting to you.
ps - upvoted you, I don't see why you've been downvoted.
A billionaire once donated to my local food bank; that doesn't make the food bank financially independent.
It also fails to understand why local journalism has completely collapsed in the past decade. A big portion of that is people moving to cities. Politico did a great article on this which showed why the media does have a decidedly liberal slant.
Regardless this is a societal problem that a private company such as FB throwing money at will not make a noticeable difference.
Facebook newsfeed model inherently works against local news and small guys (unless some certain piece goes viral once in a while). Local news outlet based out of some small locality does not have a huge follower base that gets Facebook's attention. This is just another PR stunt by Facebook.
The future of Facebook news is their curated hand picked news.
>Journalists paid to help fix Facebook’s fake news problem say they have lost trust in the platform
>“They’ve essentially used us for crisis PR,” said Brooke Binkowski, former managing editor of Snopes, a factchecking site that has partnered with Facebook for two years. “They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck … They clearly don’t care.”
In my opinion it seems like the foundations for a Patron/Client relationship. Those typically only really work out for the two parties involved.
One person can now do more with 1/1000th the budget of a local Newspaper with the barrier to entry being hard work, good writing skills, social media savvy and a love of the place they are covering.
More money to these organizations will just keep them on life support longer. Now if they changed their model 100% that would be a completely different story.
The future of journalism will be a lot of small teams (1-4) of writers/journalists/personalities running their own show in their city or state.
The financial woes of the old news industry is a symptom. A change is needed.
To really help journalism, Facebook and Google need to get out of the surveillance capitalism business.
I left this comment before on a different thread.
What we have now is monopolized internet. Few entities, like Google and FB, took over the internet and crafted the landscape to their advantage. They monopolized ads revenue, search traffic, and more importantly, they are actively spying on the general public, taking away any possible advantages from publishers. So website for doctors cannot make money by advertising to doctors. Doctors will see Google ads on Candy Crush. The result is a dearth of advertising money for publishers and regulations aimed at destroying any attempt to take over these behemoths. Local news is dead, because Google and Facebook know your location, and they sell it.
When was the last time you saw GFPR notice on Facebook or Google? Do you think publishers enjoy having "Please Donate" pop-ups? When was the last time you heard of investment rounds in online publishers, or any publisher? Why do you think Denver Post and USA Today are barely alive?
In the olden days we had websites and blog networks being born, Gawker, Weblogs Inc, TechCrunch network, political networks, etc etc. And what do we have now? Central stations with fake news shenanigans and retarded memes. While publishers, including your local newspaper and your favorite websites, are struggling.
they really are attempting to become an "internet within the Internet." kinda reminiscent of how AOL started.
I am glad I left that platform.