Facebook Canada has announced it will invest $2.5 million to launch a Local News Accelerator program in the country, part of the social network’s “ongoing global efforts to support journalists, academics and news organizations across the globe to advance journalism and help develop sustainable business models — both off and on Facebook’s platforms.”
Facebook first announced the initiative back in February but today has announced the list of the first 11 publishers part of the program:
Winnipeg Free Press
London Free Press
Northern News Services
“Canadians expect relevant, quality news on Facebook and so do we. The Launch of Facebook Local News Accelerator in Canada is one part of our commitment to high-quality, fact-based content across our family of apps,” said Marc Dinsdale, Head of Media Partnerships at Facebook Canada, in an issued statement. “We are committed to exploring what we can build together with our partners to support local news, and will continue to invest in local news in Canada.”
Facebook will be partnering with non-profit, the Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF), to administer grants to local news publishers, throughout the 12-week program. Publishers will work with coaches to further expand their digital media business and at the end, share their case studies at Facebook’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters.
“From current events to community news and politics, local news publishers provide citizens with the resources and information they need to make critical decisions for themselves and their families,” said Natalie Turvey, president and executive director, CJF, in an issued statement. “We are committed to supporting local news innovation, and we’re excited to partner with Facebook and local news publishers to bring this program to life in Canada.”
Facebook has been accused of being a source of ‘fake news’, where unverified news stories can become viral. Recently, the company has faced backlash over its refusal to remove a fake video of U.S. House Speaker and Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, appearing ill or drunk, spread by President Trump supporters.
“There’s a tension here: we work hard to find the right balance between encouraging free expression and promoting a safe and authentic community, and we believe that reducing the distribution of inauthentic content strikes that balance. But just because something is allowed to be on Facebook doesn’t mean it should get distribution. In other words, we allow people to post it as a form of expression, but we’re not going to show it at the top of News Feed,” said Facebook in a statement.
Back in March, Facebook announced new ad transparency tools in Canada, ahead of this fall’s federal election.