Is Facebook Beating Journalists at Their Own Game?

In Journalism, Social Media by UFSocial Staff

by Rachel White, UFSocial Contributor

Facebook has come a long way, especially in the realm of news reporting. While Facebook used to just be a leisure activity (and it still very much is), it has transformed into many users’ source for current events. In the past six months, Facebook has made major headway in live streaming. As an avid sports watcher (and an avid Florida Gator), I get notifications of Facebook pages going “live” at sporting events all the time. Here’s an example from the UF Basketball game on February 9, 2016:

In addition to live streaming, Facebook Signal is a new tool for journalists. Signal helps news organizations see what people, events, and topics are trending on social media, and gives them a good idea of what the public is interested in.

Do these tools put the power of reporting more in the hands of Facebook instead of journalists? Some think so, but I believe Facebook is tapping into the strengths of social media news reporting. I don’t think they are trying to take the power away from journalists, but rather take the power of reporting away from other social media channels. The tools they’ve created have significantly enhanced the scope and field of news organizations and opened up more opportunities for future developments.

However, this kind of power comes with great responsibility to those who report the news. If people get a ‘snack-size’ amount of news on Facebook, that news needs to stick to the truth without sensationalizing it. With such a short amount of time and words to make a news story desirable, it is common to want to publish the most exciting part of the story first. But this creates a false sense of hope if the full story does not live up to the excitement of its post (similar to clickbait).

All in all, reporting through Facebook helps news organizations reach audiences they haven’t before in ways that make the news more sought after. In the future, Facebook may even start sending out urgent news alerts automatically to users who linked their phone number to their profile. Future developments like this, however, may raise more questions about the power of Facebook.

About the Author

Rachel White is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in telecommunication and a master’s degree in international business at the University of Florida. She is passionate sports and travels with the UF volleyball team as the team manager.

About the Author

UFSocial Staff