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Is Facebook a publisher & what are the implications?

It was reported this week that Facebook has been supressing ‘right-wing’ news and stories in its ‘trendings topics’ box. The Times of 12 May, 2016, reports that, if proven, these allegations will change the game, transforming companies like Facebook from just being platforms of information to being publishers of news. So what? Well, this added dynamic will further complicate the debate about how to access quality, unbiased and accurate information online. With traditional paid to access content in retreat in many areas, the sources of legitimate news for businesses and organizations appear to be under threat from agenda-driven, politicised, or just plain corrupt, information sources. Of course, we are not suggesting that any of these allegations levelled at Facebook are proven, but it does raise questions about objectivity and the value and credibility that news and information published online will have in the future. Things like native content for advertising and spoof news content are further hollowing-out the integrity of news content online. For PR professionals it is up to us to counsel clients on the best path to navigate with the media they work with, but the harm being done to reputable news gathering and publishing online will only damage the credibility of news to the detriment of everyone involved.