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Aug. 20, 2019, 1:11 p.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: www.nytimes.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Christine Schmidt   |   August 20, 2019

The journalists are back. For now.

In the latest update on the coming-this-fall news tab, which will also include payments to publishers for licensing their content, Facebook will be bringing back its human-moderating style. The original system infamously flamed out in the aftermath of a head-scratching Gizmodo article in 2016 about conservative “suppression” that wasn’t exactly substantiated. Because why not, Facebook also shared the results of its “conservative bias audit” today and only changed a policy item about displaying medical tubes connected to the human body. (This also comes the day after Facebook and Twitter announced that the platforms took action against China-run disinformation campaigns, so it really doesn’t hurt to have an extra set of human eyes on the massive exchange of information throughout the platform.)

Facebook is now following in the footsteps of Apple News, which has a 30-person unit devoted to surfacing quality journalism in a setup that The New York Times called “a radical approach: humans over machines.” (Welcome to 2019.) The 10 or so journalists will be in charge of picking stories that will be featured in the news tab. The Times and Digiday were the first to report on Facebook’s human hiring Tuesday morning. From Digiday:

The journalists, whose job is purely curatorial, will help select the content that users see in a section of the news tab called Top News. Contents of the other sections of the news tab, which will focus on different topics relevant to each specific user, will be chosen algorithmically, Facebook said.

Unlike the independent contractors who worked on Facebook’s Trending Topics module or who moderate the contents of News Feed, these journalists will be full-time Facebook employees, spread across the U.S. with one in London.

From the Times:

Most of the stories appearing in the News Tab will be algorithmically sorted and ranked, [head of news partnerships Campbell] Brown said. But she said training those algorithms to personalize content to people takes an enormous amount of data and time, which is why Facebook is hiring journalists to curate and surface some of the day’s most important and pertinent news stories.

Facebook already has the job postings for these roles up. They’re looking for, both in the U.S. and abroad, five or more years of experience (including “experience with digital news”) and the main responsibility is to “curate credible content from a diverse set of publishers covering the most important stories of the day, including breaking news, daily and weekly news events.”

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