An experimental Facebook Watch show reports on journalism while trying to reinvent it.
After 18 months of distraction defending itself over privacy and its role as a platform for electoral manipulation, Facebook Inc is focusing squarely on products after its strong fourth-quarter results won back investors, who sent its shares up nearly 12% on Thursday.
Critics are targeting Facebook and Google after a week of high-profile layoffs in the media industry, pointing to their dominance over internet ads as the reason news outlets are struggling. In all, about 1,000 media jobs were cut in the past week.
U.S. regulators have met to discuss imposing a record-setting fine against Facebook for violating a legally binding agreement with the government to protect the privacy of its users’ personal data, according to three people familiar with the deliberations but not authorized to speak on the record.
Newspaper circulation is down sharply, and so is employment in the newspaper industry. Financial cutbacks have led to the shutdown of nearly 1,800 daily and weekly newspapers since 2004. Two developments this week brought the issue into further focus. Facebook, whose success has contributed to the news business’ decline, announced Tuesday it would invest $300 million over three years in news initiatives with an emphasis in local coverage. More ominously, the hedge fund-backed Digital First Media, known for sharp cost-cutting strategies, bid to buy Gannett Co. , the publisher of USA Today and several daily newspapers across the country.
A long-awaited federal probe into Facebook will be hamstrung when the agency conducting the investigation runs out of funding on Friday, according to former government officials. The investigation into Facebook’s conduct — and whether its handling of user data violated a 2011 consent order with the Federal Trade Commission — has stretched on for months. But now the government shutdown threatens to prolong the FTC’s investigation, even as Facebook’s mounting scandals have prompted calls for a swift and decisive response from the agency.
It comes as no big shock that Facebook is the least-trusted technology firm. What’s surprising is the margin by which it wins this honor in a new poll by Toluna. The December research found that 40% trust Facebook least with their personal information. Next — tied for second with 8% apiece — are Twitter and Amazon.