Patrick Walker, Facebook’s director of media partnerships, Europe/Middle East/Africa, started at Facebook about a year before the 2017 INMA World Congress in New York City. Much has changed in that year, he said.
“It’s been a big year for Facebook with regard to our relationship with the news industry. ... The company is changing for the better as our relationship with the industry gets more, I would say, much more ingrained with one another.”
In that year, the company has:
- Launched its Facebook Journalism Project.
- Helped found the News Integrity Initiative.
- Redefined its relationship with the media, becoming “more open and collaborative with industry,” Walker says.
Walker sees the relationship between his company and the news media industry evolving in many ways:
“We have a very deep relationship with the media industry. It’s evolved a lot to the point where now we do much more collaborative product development. As a company, we’re more transparent. I think we’ve realised how important news is to people within their Facebook news feed, and we want to make sure the partners we work with are well represented and they have the right commercial opportunities as well.
“It’s become, in some ways, more complex and somewhat tougher in some ways, but also better because now we have a really good, robust dialogue.”
On how fake news, President Donald Trump, and Brexit have changed social media, Walker has this to say:
“Fake news, disinformation, hoaxes, propaganda, it’s been around for a long time.... What’s new is how quickly stories can spread on social media, how accessible these types of stories can become if you don’t put checks in place to inform people what might be true and what might be questionable.
“We have become much more aware this is an issue, particularly with Brexit and the election in the U.S. And we’ve put a lot of things in place technologically — third-party fact checking partnerships — but also just educating the public more on what they should be aware of.”
On the latter initiative, Facebook has:
- Launched a public service announcement in 14 countries to educate people on how to identify fake news.
- Contributed to a joint US$14 million investment in connection with the News Integrity Initiative to create a consortium, bringing together technology companies, education organisations, and non-profits to work on news credibility.
“Credibility of news in itself is at a very challenging point, and we need to do more to address it as a whole together.”