Facebook passes internal memo of guidelines for its upcoming News Tab curators

One of the guidelines of the memo tells Facebook’s curators not to censor negative news about the company


Last month, we got to know that Facebook is hiring a team of human journalists to curate its upcoming News Tab section. The social media giant is planning to have human curators rather than depending on algorithms for better editorial control. Now, the company has shared an internal memo detailing all the guidelines for its curators.

Facebook passes internal memo of guidelines for its upcoming News Tab curators

A 3-D printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed binary code in this illustration picture, June 18, 2019. Image: Reuters.

Curators are being told to carry bad news about the company in the section rather than censoring them. However, the memo also says that curators should prioritise news pieces with on-the-record sources over anonymous ones. It also states that they can’t highlight stories based on “unsubstantiated report” until two publications cover the same story. Hence, we are sceptical whether it’s going to follow through with this guideline on speculative pieces speaking out against the company, whether it's about Facebook's shady data-sharing practises or irresponsible security-lapses. The company has had a track record of running bad press every month or so, and we will get to see whether the company stays true to this guideline once the section is rolled out.

Media outlets that break a piece of particular news will be given more priority and local outlets will have a higher priority for local news. Stories that have profanities and obscenities in the headlines will not be featured. As reported by Engadget, any story that tries to "provoke, divide and polarize" the readers won’t be featured unless those pieces are "fact-based stories that rely upon journalistic standards."

While the usage of algorithms in the past reportedly led to widespread sharing of fake news, using human curators also brings in the possibility of biased coverage. Facebook has already been accused of being politically biased by suppressing conservative views on the platform. The News Tab section is scheduled to start rolling out in October. Only time will tell whether Facebook is able to hold ethical journalistic standards while it itself is at the receiving end of controversies frequently.