The world’s largest social media platform, Facebook, is now implementing the option to subscribe to your favorite news sources through their website. Currently, 10 publishers have signed on, including household names like The Washington Post and The Economist. In addition, the mobile app will give access to a limited amount of articles per month with a subscription.
Now, why would Facebook decide to offer such a thing?
Facebook’s image has seemed to have gone down since the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The site became a target during this time for spreading “fake news.” Facebook’s lack of guidelines for news stories allows parody and satirical news sites to post easily on their platform.
Along with fake news, sites like Snopes.com publish articles that sometimes have misleading headlines such as, “The Pope endorses Trump,” “Hillary Clinton bought $137 million in illegal arms” and “The Clintons bought a $200 million house in the Maldives.” Snopes is actually a publication that fact-checks common pop culture myths, so the headlines sometimes can give a wrong impression without opening the article.Unfortunately, thiss can lead to people sharing without reading the article, thinking it means one thing but is actually the opposite.
The spreading of lies about opposing candidates has always been a part of political campaigns. Information in the 20th century about candidates mainly came from newspapers, television and radio advertisements, and debates. In 2016 however, this was the first presidential election where the Internet may have played a hand in swaying voters. The Internet allows for a new kind of propaganda, a new beast of misinformation not formerly experienced.
An analysis from Buzzfeed News found that 38 percent of posts shared from three large right-wing politics pages on Facebook included “false or misleading information” and that three large left-wing pages did the same 19 percent of the time.
Even President Donald Trump has accused the website of spreading fake news. Donald Trump, on September 22, 2017, tweeted out harsh remarks blaming Facebook for being biased against him.
The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 22, 2017
The greatest influence over our election was the Fake News Media “screaming” for Crooked Hillary Clinton. Next, she was a bad candidate!Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 22, 2017
Mark Zuckerberg later responded to President Donald Trump in a post on his Facebook page.
When you browse the web, websites use algorithms to customize products or news articles that might pertain to your interests.Unfortunately, misinformationn is a common theme on the Internet, which makes it hard to decipher fact from fiction.
News subscriptions through Facebook seem appealing, but there are some concerns. CNBC reports that publishers will have access to who subscribes but will not see who is reading the free articles. Collecting data is crucial because it shows what age groups are reading a publication, and a newspaper can use that data to see how the newspaper should be marketed going forward.
Executives have come out to say that they are still not on board with Facebook’s plan.
“Ten free articles are quite a lot. It’s more about the data and around remaining in control of our membership strategy,” an anonymous executive with The Wall Street Journal Dow Jones told Reuters.
The introduction of Facebook and subscriptions could be a big step in the right direction for the site. It could help reestablish credibility and lower the amount of fake news that circulates on Facebook.