Facebook to invest $300M in news initiatives after misinformation backlash

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Facebook will dedicate $300 million in funding over the next three years toward news partnerships and content, with a focus on local news outlets, as the social giant looks to address public concerns about fake news on its platform in the wake of the 2016 election cycle.

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The company said the investments are meant to help local journalists with basic newsgathering needs and stabilize the business models of local outlets over time. Facebook advertising revenue has steadily risen in recent years, even as print news outlets contend with declining readerships and advertising.

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“Last year, we worked to better understand what kind of news people want to see on Facebook. We’ve also asked our partners in the news industry how we can better work with them to make a real impact,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president of global news partnerships, said in a blog post. “We heard one consistent answer: people want more local news, and local newsrooms are looking for more support.”

Facebook’s planned investments include a $5 million endowment gift toward local reporting projects spearheaded by the Pulitzer Center and a $2 million grant that will fund an additional 1,000 reporters at local news outlets around the country. The social media platform is also dedicating $20 million in 2019 toward an “Accelerator pilot,” which will help local outlets transition toward subscription-based revenue models.

Facebook’s stock was under intense pressure throughout 2018 as the company dealt with a series of public relations mishaps, including multiple data breaches and unprecedented scrutiny of its efforts to combat fake news and other misinformation. The company was accused of failing to adequately address fake news and meddling from foreign agents on its platform before and after the 2016 election.

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The investments will roll out roughly one year after Facebook said it would deemphasize news stories on its timeline in favor of personal interactions.

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