Tuesday January 21, 2020
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Facebook News: Boon for Some, Ban for Many

Wait and watch as more details emerge about Facebook News

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The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

With Facebook announcing to bring top media houses onboard as it faces extreme scrutiny amid ongoing regulatory hearings over privacy violations, one thing is clear: struggling small and medium media outlets now face a strong rival, starting with the US.

The significant media handshake from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come after years of shaky relationship between the two.

Facebook never called itself a media organisation, despite experimenting with splashing news on its platform.

In 2015, the social networking platform launched Instant Articles, hosting news content inside its app.

“But heavy-handed rules restricting advertising, subscription signup boxes and recirculation modules led publishers to get little out of Instant Articles. By late 2017, many publishers had largely abandoned the feature,” reports TechCrunch.

The company also discontinued its Trending News section in June last year.

This time, Zuckerberg has played his cards well, by bringing 200 news outlets including the “alt-right” Breitbart News, despite its history of white nationalism and propagating racist conspiracies, under its umbrella.

What’s more, Facebook will reportedly pay as much as $3 million to licence headlines and previews of article from “major news outlets”.

This spells bad news for already bleeding small and medium publishers, not only in the US but in other countries including in India.

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An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

Zuckerberg predicts 20 million to 30 million people could use the News tab in a few years.

The News tab will initially be available to about 200,000 people in some of the largest cities in the US. The company has Facebook hired a team of journalists to help curate major national stories.

Facebook and news organizations have had a strained relationship in the past “because both compete for ad dollars”.

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Facebook and Google are pocketing more than 70 per cent of the digital ad spend globally, leaving scores of news organisations to vie for the rest.

Accoding to several media reports, Facebook News will have an uneven impact on news publishers a” with the largest ones benefiting the most.

Industry analyst Ken Doctor was quoted as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald that Facebook was risking backlash by choosing to pay some publishers but not others.

Will this media handshake also help Facebook control the scathing criticism coming from some of the top media outlets too, as regulators and governments go after the social media platform, including the break-up Facebook call?

Wait and watch as more details emerge about Facebook News. (IANS)

Next Story

US Judge Orders Facebook to Disclose Malicious Apps’ Data: Report

The social networking giant found that the apps -- primarily social media management and video streaming apps -- retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface)

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

As part of a probe ordered in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving 87 million users, a US judge has ordered Facebook to hand over data of thousands of apps that violated its user privacy.

Facebook admitted last year that it suspended “tens of thousands” of apps for possible privacy violations.

A Massachusetts judge rejected the social networking giant’s attempts to withhold the key details from state investigators, The Washington Post said in a report on Friday.

“We are disappointed that the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Court didn’t fully consider our arguments on well-established law. We are reviewing our options, including appeal,” a Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone was quoted as saying in the report.

Maura Healey, the Democratic Attorney General of Massachusetts, said: “We are pleased that the Court ordered Facebook to tell our office which other app developers may have engaged in conduct like Cambridge Analytica.”

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FILE – Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during Facebook Inc’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, United States. VOA

The state of Massachusetts launched the probe last September after Facebook admitted that it had suspended “tens of thousands” of apps on its platform as a result of its review on privacy practices launched following the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica.

The review, launched in 2018, followed revelations that the political consultancy hijacked personal data on millions of Facebook users and included attorneys, external investigators, data scientists, engineers, policy specialists and others, according to a Facebook statement.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal resulted in a record-breaking, $5 billion fine for Facebook from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Also Read: I Fall in Love with India Every Time I Return Here: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

In November 2019, Facebook revealed that at least 100 app developers may have accessed Facebook users’ data for months, confirming that at least 11 partners “accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days”.

The social networking giant found that the apps — primarily social media management and video streaming apps — retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface). (IANS)