Facebook will now let users rate news on its site when it comes to “quality.” What if TV news networks did the same?
What if -- in real-time -- viewers would see a story, or some opinion, on TV -- and register their thumbs, up, down, or sideways? Don’t get your hopes up.
Facebook's efforts -- like those of Google -- comes with renewed calls for “human monitors” to look at advertising and other content to determine appropriateness.
“There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, wrote in a post last week. “We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be the objective.”
For many, Facebook’s efforts might be applauded -- broadly -- for what it wants to do around “news quality.” The problem is there remains a big gap in those who make this determination. Can average users employ the same analytic skills as veteran journalists -- finding legitimate news reports that give fair treatment to all sides of an issue?
You may hate media and journalists and call them biased. But putting news judgement in the hands of the average news consumer will only muddy the works even more.
Plus, Facebook is now trimming news content -- legitimate and otherwise -- in an effort to give users more of what it wants from friends and family content. For a long time, Facebook denied it was a “news” media organization. It wants to lean back and be a “platform” -- a distribution vehicle.
But considering what it has admitted to and what happened a year ago -- Russian troll farms plying content or advertising disguised as news -- it isn’t totally out of the woods. The social network has no choice but to act, sometimes, like a TV news network or newspaper.
With all the outcry over fake news, Facebook said it was emailing notifications to 677,775 people in the United States that they had interacted with Russian propaganda accounts around the time of the 2016 election.
Traditional media organizations -- TV networks, magazines, radio and newspapers -- know that self-introspection and analysis can be healthy. Many have employed a journalistic “ombudsman” -- an outside editorial professional -- to critique a publication’s news reporting.
TV news networks might say they don’t need viewers to register judgements on specific news story; there is a simpler response: TV viewership.
The good news is that digital media is pushing new approaches to getting user engagement for all content -- news and advertising. Now we just need to figure out how valuable those engagements really are.