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Facebook To Invest $300Mn In Local News Partnerships, Programs

The idea behind the investments, Brown said, is to look “holistically at how a given publisher can define a business model."

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Facebook owned photo-messaging app Instagram already supports the "Unsend" capability VOA

Facebook says it is investing $300 million over the next three years in local news programs, partnerships and other initiatives.

The money will go toward reporting grants for local newsrooms, expanding Facebook’s program to help local newsrooms with subscription business models and investing in nonprofits aimed at supporting local news.

The move comes at a difficult time for the news industry, which is facing falling profits and print readership. Facebook, like Google, has also been partly blamed for the ongoing decline in newspapers’ share of advertising dollars as people and advertisers have moved online.

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A user gets ready to launch Facebook on an iPhone, in North Andover, Mass., June 19, 2017. Facebook has made changes to fight false information, including de-emphasizing proven false stories in people’s feeds so others are less likely to see them. VOA

Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of global news partnerships, acknowledges the company “can’t uninvent the internet,” but says it wants to work with publishers to help them succeed on and off the social network.

“The industry is going through a massive transition that has been underway for a long time,” she said. “None of us have quite figured out ultimately what the future of journalism is going to look like but we want to be part of helping find a solution.”

Facebook has increased its focus on local news in the past year after starting off 2018 with the announcement that it was generally de-emphasizing news stories and videos in people’s feeds on the social network in favor of posts from their friends.

At the same time, though, the company has been cautiously testing out ways to boost local news stories users are interested in and initiatives to support the broader industry. It launched a feature called “Today In” that shows people local news and information , including missing-person alerts, road closures, crime reports and school announcements, expanding it to hundreds of cities around the U.S. and a few in Australia.

Facebook, social media
Silhouettes of laptop users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this illustration. VOA

The push to support local news comes as Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, California, tries to shake off its reputation as a hotbed for misinformation and elections-meddling. The company says users have been asking to see more local content that is relevant to them, including news stories as well as community information such as road closings during a snowstorm.

The $300 million investment includes a $5 million grant to the nonprofit Pulitzer Center to launch “Bringing Stories Home,” a fund that will provide local U.S. newsrooms with reporting grants to support coverage of local issues. There’s also a $2 million investment in Report for America as part of a partnership aiming to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms across the country over the next five years.

The idea behind the investments, Brown said, is to look “holistically at how a given publisher can define a business model. Facebook can’t be the only answer, the only solution — we don’t want the publisher to be dependent on Facebook.”

Also Read: Democratic Lawmakers Further Investigate Russia’s Involvement In U.S. Election

Fran Wills, CEO of the Local Media Consortium, which is receiving $1 million together with the Local Media Association to help their member newsrooms develop new revenue streams, said she is optimistic the investment will help.

“I think they are recognizing that trusted, credible content is of benefit not only to local publishers but to them,” she said. (VOA)

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Mark Zuckerberg Not Going to Sell WhatsApp or Instagram

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has rejected a US lawmaker's call to break his company, saying he's not going to sell WhatsApp or Instagram

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Mark Zukerberg, Facebook, Instagram, Sell, Business
Zuckerberg, however, rejected these calls, saying the size of the social media giant was actually a benefit to its users and the security of the democratic process. VOA

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has rejected a US lawmaker’s call to break his company, saying he’s not going to sell WhatsApp or Instagram at any cost.

Senator Josh Hawley (Missouri Republican) tweeted that he met Zuckerberg during his visit to Washington, DC on Thursday, and asked him to sell Instagram and WhatsApp.

“Just finished meeting with @facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Had a frank conversation. Challenged him to do two things to show FB is serious about bias, privacy & competition. 1) Sell WhatsApp & Instagram 2) Submit to independent, third-party audit on censorship. He said no to both,” tweeted Hawley, one of Facebook’s biggest critics.

Zuckerberg also met President Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

“Nice meeting with Mark Zuckerberg of @Facebook in the Oval Office today,” tweeted Trump.

This is Facebook CEO’s first public trip to Washington since he testified before House and Senate committees in April last year over Cambridge Analytica data scandal affecting 87 million users globally.

According to media reports, Zuckerberg met several lawmakers this time and discussions included allegations that Facebook curtails conservative speech.

Mark Zukerberg, Facebook, Instagram, Sell, Business
Mark Zuckerberg has rejected a US lawmaker’s call to break his company, saying he’s not going to sell WhatsApp or Instagram at any cost. Pixabay

As the chorus grows to break up Facebook, the social networking platform’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg recently said that it won’t serve any purpose.

“You could break us up, you could break other tech companies up, but you actually don’t address the underlying issues people are concerned about,” she had said earlier.

Several US senators have called for breaking up the social network amid repeated data breaches and privacy violations on the platform.

ALSO READ: Scientists Reform Face Of Another Human Ancestor

Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Kamala Harris, has stressed that authorities should take a serious look at breaking up Facebook as the social network platform is a “utility that has gone unregulated”.

Another Democratic 2020 candidate, Senator Elizabeth Warren, has also stressed upon the possibility of breaking up Facebook.

Zuckerberg, however, rejected these calls, saying the size of the social media giant was actually a benefit to its users and the security of the democratic process. (IANS)