Facebook vs. Censorship

In Journalism by UFSocial Staff

by Ashleigh Ostermann, UFSocial Contributor

Facebook has done a good job adapting to emerging trends for generations across the board. In current time, Facebook is known as “users’ primary news source,” according to The Guardian. As a pioneer in social media, Facebook will continue to make news readily available, fast — making it a leader in broadcast news via social media.

For example, for the first time in history, the presidential debate was featured on Facebook Live. That means it was available on users’ computers, tablets and mobile devices, in real time. Outlets streamed the debate not only on Facebook Live, but also through Twitter and YouTube. ABC News says that they will also be streaming the next two debates.

The platform continues to utilize features consumers want. Facebook Live allows journalists and news outlets to connect with their followers in real time, at a click of a button. Users can access this stream through any mobile device, at any location, instead of being tied to watching news via television.

While researching predictions for Facebook, Fortune explains that video “is growing even more quickly than the company anticipated.” This can impact the future of news greatly, moving news outlets to learn and grow with the platform. The article also commented that “people are loving the behind-the-scenes content on Facebook Live.” Videos are telling stories in an easy and fast way for consumers.

According to Fortune, “Users currently watch an average 100 million hours of video on Facebook mobile per day and daily views have increased from 1 billion to 8 billion in one year.”

Consumers and organizations alike believe Facebook has too much power over content, which is something that needs to adapt. Slate spoke to this issue recently as Facebook censored the Pulitzer Prize–winning 1972 photo, “The Terror of War.” This action led to negative feedback for the social media platform, but this illustrates that the platform has the final say of censoring news and content. Journalists can be censored, even though the platform has taken over as one of the leading places we consume news.

Read the statement from Facebook, defending their decision, below:

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The platform has control and power of what people share. Which makes sense in some situations, but, in my view, not when it comes to news and associated content. Recently, I uploaded a video for a client’s event that showed the event and talked about the successes. It was removed by Facebook because of a song that was used in a part of the video. The song came from a program that we had approval to use. But we were not able to contact them in an easy way to explain the situation. We ended up uploading it to YouTube, then providing the link on Facebook. This was a hassle and shows the way the platform detects potential problems and how I believe it is not always censoring in the right way.

This could affect news in the next five years. Experts don’t necessarily believe that Facebook will give up their power, by any means, but it is possible that they give news outlets a little more freedom over their own content. If they don’t, news outlets may find another platform to share their videos.

Facebook’s reach gives it the potential to lead to a greater awareness of what is happening in the world. Our lives are getting busier, and I don’t think that is going to stop. So getting news merged into our social platforms is important. The platform is likely to continue to be a key player within news distribution, especially with breaking news.

In the next five years, I predict that Facebook will go back to human editors, versus their current algorithms, so that censorship would be light touch. The idea that they could hire journalists and news editors specifically would be beneficial. Also, short videos are going to continue to be the way we consume news.

Hopefully, Facebook will embrace the responsibility that has been placed on them, to distribute accurate and unbiased news. This would mean stepping away from seeing themselves as simply a media company.

“After all, in today’s social media world, if it isn’t on Facebook, it didn’t happen,” says Forbes.

 

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UFSocial Staff