Facebook continues to get more serious about the news.
The social network has helped launch a $14 million program called the "News Integrity Initiative" in the hopes of figuring out how to make people stop reading and spreading the latest conspiracy about Hillary Clinton’s child trafficking/pizza franchise operation.
Facebook along with a long list of other partners (Mozilla, Craiglist founder Craig Newmark, the Knight Foundation, the Tow Foundation, City University of New York (CUNY), among others) are working together on the project. It’s the latest step in the social network’s post-election campaign that is beginning to look like a major turning point for how Mark Zuckerberg sees Facebook’s involvement in the news.
Before the campaign, Facebook and Zuckerberg consistently denied that the company had much to do with the news or what was spreading between its users, despite having grown into the single most dominant platform for news that the world has ever seen.
Facebook’s refusal to take any responsibility for what happened on its platform softened following a wave of criticism concerning how conspiracy-based and often purposely false information ran riot. Since then, the company has taken baby steps toward being a more active participant in the news, including a new "Facebook Journalism Project" and a "listening tour" with local media.
Campbell Brown, Facebook’s recent addition as head of news partnerships, also welcomed the news.
"We’re excited to announce we are helping to found and fund the News Integrity Initiative, a diverse new network of partners who will work together to focus on news literacy. The initiative will address the problems of misinformation, disinformation and the opportunities the internet provides to inform the public conversation in new ways," she wrote in a blog post.
The initiative announced Sunday is not exclusive to Facebook and its issues, though Jeff Jarvis, professor of journalism at CUNY and one of the leaders of the initiative, said it would be an area of focus.
"My greatest hope is that this Initiative will provide the opportunity to work with Facebook and other platforms on reimagining news, on supporting innovation, on sharing data to study the public conversation, and on supporting news literacy broadly defined," Jarvis wrote in a blog post about the initiative.
There are other signs that Facebook is also looking to change how news appears within the social network — a move that could signal a Snapchat Discover-like interest in working with quality publishers to feature their content in richer ways.
Recently, a new rocket icon appeared for some Facebook users that can direct to a new section that features (for some) magazine-like content. In January, Facebook revealed it was testing a high-end version of its Instant Articles program.