With 1.5 billion users, Facebook certainly has some weight to throw around. And more and more of those users want to get the world news in the same place they get the local gossip.
Reporters use all manner of tools to track breaking stories- from Twitter livestreams to 24-hour TV news, even text messages. Facebook has decided to try throw its hat in the game.
The new Facebook program is called Signal, as in a signal through all of the noise. This free news gathering tool combines information gathered from Facebook and Instagram users to allow journalists to better follow news, track reactions, and obtain relevant photos and videos.
According to the service announcement from Facebook, Signal allows journalists who want to source, gather, and embed newsworthy content from Facebook and Instagram, across news, culture, entertainment, sports, and more, to be served that content in the one place.
“Social news gathering has been happening for a while,” said Andy Mitchell, Facebook’s director of news and global media partnerships. “Given the scale of Facebook, there clearly is a wealth of content available, so we wanted to build a tool to make it easier for journalists to discover new content that’s shared.”
Reporters can now track the buzz around world leaders or emerging hashtags. Access is granted to any journalist who requests it.
Facebook is increasingly try to be the go-to site for journalists, launching app after app that cater towards the news media. Last year, Facebook introduced a set of new publisher tools; a few months ago, the company launched Instant Articles; last week they launched the Mentions app.
And yet, people still rely more on Twitter to get the news. Twitter offers immediate, unfiltered buzz from the thousands of celebrities and trendsetters. Moreover, a reporter can customize Twitter to suit their needs – a feature not currently available on Signal.
Still, with 1.5 billion users, Facebook certainly has some weight to throw around. And more and more of those users want to get the world news in the same place they get the local gossip.
“News is a real core part of people’s experience on Facebook,” said Mitchell. “Signal continues our investment in news more broadly and clearly journalists are very important constituents.”