Hello and welcome back to our weekly digital update! This one is a particularly relevant one and will have people talking for some time.
Halloween has come and gone and your biggest fear has come true, or at least mine: FACEBOOK NEWS. Yes, after covering Facebook's decision of not fact-checking political ads I thought that I had covered the most controversial side of the well-know platform. But apparently Mark Zuckerberg will never stop surprising us. He has decided to launch Facebook News, a dedicated tab for news content. Yes, it is exactly what you think it is. It will be an entire news page feed hosted by Facebook. Does it sound like a gateway to fake news? To me? Yes. It also sounds like who pays the most will have their side of the story heard.
I know that controls will be made, and multi-million dollar agreements with publishers have already been taken, but I cannot be the only one thinking this could be a recipe for disaster.
The format is pretty simple: Facebook is adding a new tab to the top navigation bar within the app which will take to its news content listing. From there, users will be able to view the latest news by topic, hide sections or publications or get a general news update - basically, the tab is designed to cater to your personal news needs every day, with a curated listing of content from approved providers many of whom Facebook has signed partnership agreements with.
Facebook is aware that people like me will accuse the app of being biased and of amplifying certain voices over others. So this is what they promised:
...to be in our News Page Index, which we developed in collaboration with the industry to identify news content. They also need to abide by Facebook’s Publisher Guidelines, these include a range of integrity signals in determining product eligibility, including misinformation - as identified based on third-party fact checkers - community standards violations (e.g., hate speech), clickbait, engagement bait and others."
The News Page Index is a listing of Facebook verified news pages, and Facebook says that any Page which primarily creates journalism should seek this verification. They will have to if they want to be featured in Facebook News.
In order to be verified and listed, Pages will be checked for adherence to a range of qualifiers, including:
"Pages that repeatedly share misinformation are not be eligible to register as news Pages. If our fact-checking partners find a registered news Page to be repeatedly sharing misinformation, registration for that Page may be revoked."
Could this move be too big and too brave even for an international power such as Facebook? Over the years, Facebook has repeatedly tried to make news content a priority on its platform, but it hasn't benefited publishers.
That's why Facebook has now made monetary deals with publishers, and added in all the elements they've been calling for, including links to publications which Facebook users subscribe to outside the platform, and clear publisher branding on each story to help better establish audience connection.
Facebook's renewed news push is more about accepting the fact that it is now part of the news distribution system, and if it's going to play a part, it needs to be more responsible about the content it shares.
So on the flip side, maybe by accepting its role in the spread of information, Facebook will actually put more effort into fact-checking news and spread only reliable sources of content. Whether we like it or not, social media has become one of the most influential sources of information out there and we need to face the consequences. What will make the difference is how we as a people will make use of it.
But let's move on to something a bit lighter!
Instagram (yes, yes, as usual) is testing out a brand new feature that, to be honest, it’s really cool. The app is testing augmented reality. AR is similar to VR, but instead of creating an entire virtual landscape AR only augments one factor of reality. This apparently creates great value in marketing.
Instagram is actively testing an on-platform augmented reality shopping feature with selected advertisers. When users are looking at certain shoppable, tagged products, they’ll see the option to “try it on” when viewing the product’s information.
Users can try on sunglasses, lip colours, and all, all with the click of a button. Even though this feature clearly was developed for marketing purposes and surely will increase the traffic of online shopping, I find it quite useful. So many times I would have liked to see if one product or the other would suit me!
Instagram has also added a new IGTV 'Series' option which will enable creators to segment their videos into dedicated collections.
Now you can easily watch IGTV series from creators you love and get notified when there are new episodes. This is supposed to, and probably will, increase traffic on the platform and increase views.