Jesper Doub speaking at GEN Summit (13 June 2019)

Credit: Jesper Doub speaking at GEN Summit (13 June 2019)

Jesper Doub, Facebook EMEA, director of news partnerships, was an outspoken critic of Facebook until he joined the company last year.

Speaking at GEN Summit today (13 June 2019), he said that Facebook is looking at new ways to help news organisations monetise content published on the platform.

“I believe the best way to make it happen is to allow news organisations to make business on Facebook,” he said.

One option the company is considering is a dedicated space for news on Facebook, not revealing any specific details of what it would look like. Another is a tool allowing publishers to build subscriptions via the platform with pricing, data harvesting and contracts being determined by publishers and readers.

Doub added that Facebook is putting together a list of trustworthy news sources, in addition to actively down-ranking clickbait content.

“We look to treat trustworthy reporters and news organisations differently. It’s not only about the New York Times or Der Spiegel, we also look at individual journalists.”

The project sees a host of different experts, such as academics, journalists and lawyers working together to determine trustworthiness of news sources.

“We want to support independent journalism,” Doub affirmed, adding that the purpose of the list is not to ban or rank people but to create a database of sources that can be trusted and treated differently to everyone else.

“We also work with organisations like RISJ to find better ways to support journalism, especially local news ” he added.

There is no clear timeline for these new features, but understands it will take at least three to six months to see the pilot projects roll out in the US, will other countries testing the tools afterwards.

These new projects came after Facebook made changes to its algorithm, which angered many publishers as they experienced a significant drop in web traffic.

“If you look at the algorithm, its role is to rank content from the user’s perspective, determining what you would like to read. Journalists, however, think of content as something you ought to read.”

He explained that news stories are now taking longer to show in users’ news feed and the news content that is shown may not be the top story of the day as it will depend on users' - and their friends’ - behaviour.

“The news only comes from news pages you like, you only see the content you first choose,” stressed Doub.

But considering the bitter taste left by the last experience, can the publishers trust the platform now?

“Facebook will not be the solution but we want to be the part of it,” Doub concluded.

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