Facebook will hire a small team of journalists to curate an upcoming news experience in its app, the company announced Tuesday.
The move to hire human editors is reminiscent of the “Trending” news section that Facebook shuttered after a Gizmodo report detailed claims from anonymous editors for the feature who said they were routinely pressured to suppress stories from conservative outlets.
That report and the resulting backlash it generated from conservatives haunts Facebook to this day, and has been mentioned many times by politicians in Washington hearings that Facebook executives have attended in recent months. This time around, Facebook hopes to avoid a similar fiasco by hiring journalists as full-time Facebook employees, rather than outside contractors.
Anne Kornblut, a Pulitzer Prize–winning former editor for The Washington Post, is helping lead Facebook’s effort to hire the small team of editors, while Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships, is overseeing the news tab initiative. Facebook job listings for the editorial team refer to the positions as “news curators” rather than editors. Facebook is in discussions with media companies to license content for the project, with reports suggesting the social network is willing to pay an upwards of $3 million per publisher deal.
Facebook plans to use algorithms to curate most of the stories in the forthcoming news tab, which is slated to debut before the end of the year. Human editors will select breaking and “top” news stories, a spokesperson told The Information. Scrutiny of any political bias in how the upcoming news tab is curated will be high. Coincidentally, Facebook on Tuesday also released a Republican-led audit of its platform that found the company still has “significant work to be done to satisfy the concerns” of potential bias against conservatives.