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Facebook launches FB Newswire for journalists; loses part of its immunity under IT Act 2000

Saturday, 26 April 2014 - 9:00am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

A bus accident in California, a fire in New Jersey and another in Vasant Kunj, NASA's successful test flight of its vertical take-off and landing craft, a ceremony to honour the sherpas who died during an avalanche at the Everest last week, and, Israel's suspension of talks with Palestinian authorities. These were some of the news that were disseminated on the first day of Facebook's newest social tool: a newswire to aid journalists and newsrooms.

In a tie-up with News Corp's Storyful, Facebook launched the Newswire late on Thursday to function as a tool to aid journalists and newsrooms to "find, share and embed newsworthy content from Facebook in the media they produce". Apart from Facebook, the tool is also accessible on twitter at @FBNewswire.

"FB Newswire aggregates newsworthy content shared publicly on Facebook by individuals and organisations across the world for journalists to use in their reporting. This will include original photos, videos and status updates posted by people on the front lines of major events like protests, elections and sporting events," said Andy Mitchell, director of news and global media partnerships at Facebook, via a Facebook blog post.

Facebook has been in the centre of the internet security debate for a while; claiming immunity from legal provisions citing its non-curatorial approach and also denying responsibility for the news the social media network produces. "With the launch of this new tool, Facebook is not only curating information, it also directs knowledge of the content its produces through the newswire. That makes it legally responsible under the Information Technology Act (2000)", says Sunil Abraham, director of the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS).

The move is also seen as Facebook attempting to reach out to journalists, and eat away into the space that Twitter has occupied in the dissemination of information. Facebook has largely been operating as a social media network; and its move into the new-making space is seen as an expansion in that direction.

"There might be some competition for journalists and traditional media outlets. But largely, Facebook's tie-ups with broadcasters and political parties, where it has been promoting content in exchange for compensation, has not been transparent," says Abraham.

With more than a billion users, Facebook is considered the largest social media network. In a statement on April 24, Facebook revealed that more than half of the world's internet population now uses the social media network and recorded a 72% increase in its revenues in the first quarter of the year.




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