Facebook acknowledges media influence

Facebook and journalism have an interesting relationship. News outlets need the social media platform to reach readers, and Facebook need the news to add some real content to the streams of dog pictures, food photos and whiny rants about the latest episode of “The Bachelor.”

This relationship came to the forefront during the last presidential election season. Fake news spread like wildfire on social media, with unwitting Facebookers just clicking “share” without even really reading the entire article to see if it was valid for not.

That’s a problem, which I talked about last week.

But last month Facebook did take steps toward fixing the problem. The company finally admitted it has media influence, and it even announced it was launching the Facebook Journalism Project. In an article from USA Today, Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice president of global operations and media partnerships, summed up the project by saying:

We want to work with publishers to build products that enable them to tell better stories, connect with their audiences in richer ways and support emerging business models for publishers.

According to Facebook, the project will work by tackling three main areas. These include Collaborative Development of News Products, Training and Tools for Journalists and Training and Tools for Everyone. Each of these pillars of the project have several secondary areas of impact that lead should lead to the successful completion of the big three goals.

AdWeek provided an in-depth look at what all this could mean. Some of it sounds kind of exciting, like a curriculum to teach some journalism and the ability to use the Facebook Live feature on the behalf of a page instead of only your own account, which would be handy for news organizations. Some big names in the media world are reportedly onboard to team up with Facebook to make this initiative work, so I’m keenly interested in how this unfolds.

The problem, at this point, is the lack of any visible progress. As of this writing, the link to the official blog of the project isn’t active. That concerns me. The first announcement of this project was nearly a month ago. I get it might take some time to get things rolling, but you could at least activate the blog and keep people informed and show signs of life. Hopefully the announcement wasn’t just a ploy to get the heat off when it comes to criticism about Facebook’s role as a publisher.