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Facebook is Planning on Getting News Shows for its Video Platform, “Watch”

Facebook is quite close to announcing news shows for its video platform, Watch, which will include content from the likes of CNN and Fox News. According to people familiar with the matter, the social media platform will finance the news programs that are being negotiated, and the programs will run on Facebook exclusively.

Facebook to bring a News Video section to Watch

A few of the shows, including one hosted by Shepard Smith from Fox News, will officially release in July, though some might be released earlier.

The tech giant has invested in the news business in the past as well. However, this financing of exclusive news programming is a big step, as this will be a direct investment in the field.

Alex Hardiman, head of the news division of Facebook, said that people tell Facebook that they want to “stay informed about what is happening around them.” Recently, Facebook announced that it is bringing a News Video section to its video service, Watch. This video service, which made its debut last year at the end of summer, will allow people to view weekly deep dives, daily news briefings and live coverage which are available to Watch exclusively.

Facebook committed to real-time and breaking news: Ms. Hardiman

This move by the tech company into the original news business comes at a critical time, given the fake news and political imbalance controversies in which it has been embroiled. Facebook has partnered with publishers in the past, but it has never been an investor in programming.

It looks like Facebook is attempting to use peoples’ trust in cable news to strengthen its own reputation. To regain the trust of its users, it will include popular journalists like Shepard Smith and companies like CNN and Fox News.

There are more changes to accompany this news push.  Facebook is shutting down its trending topics section and is releasing a new section dubbed ‘Today In’ which will connect people to the updates from local organizations and officials, as well as to news from local publishers. With these new shows and Watch, Facebook hopes to challenge both YouTube and traditional television. It remains to be seen if Watch will be able to provide Facebook with the success that it seeks.

The Complexity of Combating Fake News

 

Last month, representatives from popular social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were talking about their difficulties in trying to combat fake news, hate speech and hate propaganda before an audience of lawyers and law students. They said that the problem is complex, which is why it has no easy answers.

Executives are not certain about the problem

During a panel discussion on the campus of Stanford University, the executives from YouTube (owned by Google), Facebook and Twitter told the audience that they are not certain how to address the problem. The panel, which focused on the challenges to democracy and the importance of free speech on the internet, revealed several important facts and figures. Twitter’s representative said his company is challenging about 6.4 million suspicious accounts per week to prevent the spread of fake news and misinformation on its platform.

He did not reveal the number of accounts that Twitter suspended, but he noted that the number was huge. (He did not specify, though, how the handlers of those suspended accounts were stopped from creating new accounts on the platform.) Moreover, he revealed that company has started tweaking its APIs to limit the use of multiple accounts. He said that this measure has resulted in a 90% decrease in the amount of automated malicious information.

When the representatives were asked if the U.S. Constitution should be amended to deal with the issues posed by the internet, Facebook’s representative indicated anxiety about this, as in this particular area, public conversation is driven more by anecdote and less by data, and the stakes are so high.

Does hate speech influence people?

The social networks’ representatives indicated that no one knows what the impact is of false information and hate speech. YouTube’s global head of public policy and government relations said that the issue has been overblown. She disputed the idea that democracy is dying, arguing that the issues related to hate speech and hate propaganda are recurrent themes in U.S. history.

 

 

 

 

Will A.I. Solve Facebook’s Fake News Problem?

Facebook’s troubles with abuse–including unwanted content from nudity, to hate speech to serious violence—do not seem to be amenable to an easy solution. However, these days what has proven to be most damaging and sensitive for the tech giant is fake news, false information and hoaxes.

Facebook’s strategy to deal with the Fake News issue

Facebook has hired many human moderators – now over 7500 – to prevent the spread of fake news on its platform. Further, Zuckerberg noted in a recent interview that it could set up some independent body to evaluate which content is genuine and which is not. There are also reports that Facebook might use Artificial Intelligence to weed out fake news.

In an interview to The New York Times, Zuckerberg said that the company rolled out some new AI tools last year for elections in Alabama in order to identify false news and fake accounts.  In his testimony before the U.S. Congress, he also pointed to the use of AI.   Similarly, the tech giant said that it had rolled out machine learning to pick out suspicious behavior without assessing the actual content. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are certainly important tools when it comes to updating the social media platform.

Promises that Zuckerberg made to the Senate    

Senate John Cornyn told Zuckerberg that the Congress had been told in the past that platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other similar platforms are like neutral platforms. He asked the Facebook CEO if he agrees that the social media giant and other social networking sites are, in fact, not neutral.

Zuckerberg replied by affirming Facebook’s responsibility for content on its services, and said that Facebook would use a number of tools to  identify more kinds of bad content such as revenge porn, fake news, hate speech, obscenity, and other content that is deemed controversial. By the end of this year, he said that Facebook would hire over 20,000 content moderators to identify and root out most of the illegal and harmful content.

Recently, at Facebook’s annual developer’s conference, Zuckerberg stood before more than 5,000 developers and talked about innovation without thoughtlessness. He spoke of responsibility and idealism, and the need to build a technology that will assist in bringing people closer together—though he noted that it is not going to happen on its own. He said that Facebook’s responsibility is to continue building while keeping people safe.

The question is whether human eyes and artificial intelligence will be adequate to meet the challenges of fake news.