Alongside spreading news across the world, social networks also have the ability to introduce breaking news. In 2010, the royal engagement between Prince William and Catherine Middleton was first introduced on Twitter. Their first baby was introduced to the world on Facebook. Whitney Houston’s death reached Twitter before any mainstream news source had reported it. Even the raid that led to Osama Bin Laden’s death was reported live by a Pakistani IT worker before anyone knew what was going on. If reporters want to be the first in line to receive breaking news, it may be more important for them to sit on their social networks than by a phone.
Facebook is catching on, and wants to make journalists’ jobs a little easier. Facebook recently announced that it will be releasing the Facebook Newswire. The new service will be available as a news aggregator, alongside being a news source for journalists.
Of course, the things said on Facebook are not necessarily accurate. In 2011, a false news story claiming that a 14-year-old boy was shot six times by his stepfather was spread on Facebook. Often stories about movie sequels, like a Space Jam sequel, have been found over Facebook, and reported by real news agencies despite being completely unfounded rumors. Plenty of false reports about dead celebrities also seem to spread across social networks. Facebook plans on making sure that the Facebook Newswire will only feature verified and accurate news.
In order to do this, Facebook will be partnering with Storyful, a social media aggregator that has stories verified by its editorial team. Of course, this may slow down the process of news reaching journalists, as it will need to be verified first. The service will need to weigh the ability to deliver breaking stories to journalists quickly against the ability to have these stories verifiable.
Journalists will be able to use the service to access public status updates of Facebook users addressing those stories. The posts won’t be text only, with access to videos and photos being given to journalists too.
Using social media as a news source is not new, but Facebook’s plan to aggregate stories and verify them is an interesting innovation in news reporting. With this service, news will hit the Web even quicker, with first hand statements and videos being put right in the hands of reporters.
Edited by Alisen Downey