In a lately meeting, Facebook announced to media practitioners that they would do their part to elevate media literacy by means of supplying tools and training to journalists.
At first glance, Facebook’s move is shocking, or at least confusing as we all know that Facebook is the platform where all sorts of information got spread/viral. To ensure freedom of expression and to do its business well, Facebook has no reason to select/censor/filter contents from users of various backgrounds. After all, Facebook is no more than a commercial organization based on “contents”. In my view, it is debatable that how Facebook shall position itself on this issue. However, for better or not, a healthier and fairer media eco-system is beneficial to the whole society, as long as Facebook provides media literacy tools rather than be the “tool” itself.
During the Facebook meeting, ways of engaging in media literacy are introduced, though a lot more moves are still at their preliminary phase. Third party experts are of great importance to this emerging literacy project. Experts in various fields are invited to join force to conduct situation analysis. In Hong Kong, Facebook partners with the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre.
The media literacy project by Facebook leaves a few concerns, in another word, new challenges: shall we re-define news/journalism again? When Facebook, the largest social media in the world claims to do “journalism” as well, what shall we expect from Facebook-style journalism and journalistic journalism? In addition, as the “third party” mechanism acclaimed by Facebook represents the “independence” and “fairness” which are complied with traditional journalism spirit, does it mean that this “third party” equals to “objectivity”?
When the boundary between online and offline world blurs more and more, it is an urge for us, as researcher, educator and citizen, to re-think “news”.