Facebook News Tab Launch in US – Attacked for Including Breitbart

10/29/2019     Author: Billy Gray

Facebook now has a news tab for its users to keep up with the latest developments in national and international news. But not all of the outlets seem so ordinary.

 

It’s been a hot week for Mark Zuckerberg, as the CEO of Facebook, Inc. was rigorously questioned before a Congressional committee about the company’s proposed Libra cryptocurrency, as well as previous scandals like Cambridge Analytica.

Now the company has added a news tab to its app, and journalists have been quick to grill Zuckerberg on the inclusion of controversial ‘alt-right’ news website Breitbart, which has been removed from Wikipedia as a credible source. It’s widely believed – and has been proven on some occasions – that Breitbart partakes in inaccurate reporting. This appears to often be at the expense of minority communities and immigrants.

Mark Zuckerberg has defended the company’s decision to include the controversial news website on its News Tab, stating that Facebook wants to include a diverse range of opinions so that those with varying political stances for have access to news of their choice.

Battle of the news

Facebook’s decision to include Breitbart is being defended on the lines of including a variety of opinions in their outlets, although, founder Steve Banon has himself admitted that it is a source for the ‘alt-right’. While not everyone believes this group to be a grave threat to America, certainly those on the left of the spectrum do.

The site has been criticized many times for reporting inaccurate information with the aim of spreading right-wing propaganda. This isn’t to say that it’s the only news website that has done so – others were also removed from Wikipedia as credible sources, including the left-wing news website Occupy Democrats, and the British tabloid, The Daily Mail.

It appears that you cannot win when it comes to including a variety of opinions on your social media app – the other side will always complain about the fact that the opinions being included aren’t all theirs. That is not to say that critics of Breitbart don’t have a valid point regarding the questionable nature of the site’s content. It has, on various occasions, posted stories that appear to be going over the line of what is acceptable in modern journalism and society. That’s obviously pretty concerning.

It appears that Facebook isn’t going to back down from its decision to include them on the news tab, however. They probably just think that every news website publishes complete nonsense, and that the only reason Breitbart gets so much attention for it is because of the site’s extreme political stance.

After all, why was it only recently that people started throwing the term ‘fake news’ around? Hasn’t is always been the case that publications would be economical with the details to provide a story that fits into the political outcome that they want to bring about? That’s the way that we remember it…

Zuckerberg under fire

Zuckerberg may as well have spent the last week in the Somme. His appearance in front of Congress was immediately confrontational, as US lawmakers grilled the Facebook CEO over his proposed cryptocurrency and why the American – and global – public should trust the company with so much power. This is a good question, considering the privacy and security scandals that Facebook has been at the center of in the last few years.

With everything from Cambridge Analytica making moves to influence the 2016 US election, as well as Brexit, and then the recent decision by Facebook not to fact-check political ads, it seems that the company isn’t having the best PR time right now.

This is on top of the many pictures of Zuckerberg attempting to drink water in a human-like fashion, which of course, was all over the internet within minutes of the testimony.

Now, the CEO is coming under fire for his defense of Breitbart being on Facebook, as well as his frequent dining with conservative and right-wing pundits. The CEO claims that this is to ensure that he gets a variety of opinions from people across the spectrum, and that he also dines with the other side of the coin, too.

In all, Zuckerberg is getting accused of caving in to conservatives and right-wing types by addressing their concerns and not taking down offensive content posted by them. It could be said that the other side is just moaning because he’s not dining with them enough – frankly, it does seem like the left will wine about literally anything, just to ensure that there is enough to wine about. In a way, you can see why a CEO would be driven away from them.

How does the feature work?

Whatever your political opinions, you sort of do have to hand it to Zuckerberg for defended a wide spectrum of opinions. He claims that the content uploaded onto the news tab is independent of anyone in the company and that publications will even receive payments for good quality content. What a winning situation for journalists – something that doesn’t happen often, these days.

The tab won’t take news out of your main feed – rather, it’ll compliment it. This is likely going to avoid the company’s previous failure to create this feature. It means that you’ll be more likely to get genuine content in your news feed, and rubbish click bait in your newsfeed.

Users will also be able to customize what they see, for example, you’ll be able to choose whether to see just tech news, or politics, or local stuff, and so on. This will allow users to get quicker access to the stories that matter to them, rather than scrolling through pages of outrage-driven dogma.

The wrap-up

We think that this new News tab on Facebook could be a really good thing. It could do a lot to drive up user engagement with the app and it could even become a good support line to publications that are struggling in the 21st century click bait news market.

It’s refreshing to see that Facebook is at least trying to include everyone, as well, even if some of those sites come under fire for the direction of their content. We’ll have to see how it goes once it’s rolled out around the world.

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