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Facebook and Twitter join coalition to improve social media newsgathering

The Guardian // 14th September 2016

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Facebook and Twitter join coalition to improve social media newsgathering” was written by Jasper Jackson, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 13th September 2016 12.00 UTC

Facebook and Twitter have signed up to a coalition of news organisations aimed at improving reporting from social media and tackling fake news.

Channel 4 News, the Telegraph, the New York Times, Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, ABC News in Australia and Agence France-Presse are among more than 20 news organisations to have signed up to the partner network, which is being organised through Google-backed First Draft.

The involvement of Facebook in particular is seen as significant given its huge role in the distribution and gathering of news, as well as growing concerns about its role in spreading fake stories and its approach to what can and can’t be posted on its platform.

The partner network is designed to help news organisations work with the tech companies to improve newsgathering, and make verification of information from social media more effective and easier to access.

It also hopes to improve the experience of eyewitnesses contacted by news organisations, and help social media users assess news they find on networks.

Áine Kerr, Facebook’s journalism partnerships manager, said the network would help it support reporters in using Facebook to find and distribute news more effectively.

“The network will help Facebook showcase the products, tools and services we have built for journalists but also ensure we are constantly learning about how to improve them based on feedback from newsrooms,” she said. “We want to ensure we are building opportunities to learn from the industry and to ensure we continually hear their questions and feedback.”

The members of the partner network will develop guidelines for best practice, but the recommendations will not be binding.

First Draft operates as a coalition of organisations specialising in social media newsgathering and verification, including News Corp-owned Storyful, Elliot Higgins’ Bellingcat and Reportedly.

First Draft managing director Jenni Sargent said: “First Draft already works so closely with both news organisations and social platforms that we feel uniquely positioned to coordinate efforts and facilitate real progress in tackling some of the key challenges facing journalists and their audiences.”

Other organisations joining the network include Al Jazeera’s AJ+, Breaking News, International Business Times UK, Reveal project, Euronews, Amnesty International, European Journalism Centre and American Press Institute.

Other news providers are understood to be considering joining following the launch.

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