A new ‘mentorship’ program in groups

Under fire for the role it has played in spreading misinformation on its platform, Facebook has officially announced a new ‘mentorship’ program — a free service which will pair people who need help or guidance with those who can provide it. Mentorships will start first with a focus on mentoring opportunities within specific Groups — there are about 200 million Group members across the platform. Facebook’s product manager for Groups, Gabriel Cohen, said Facebook will be extending the feature to a smaller selection of Groups which are focused on ‘parenting, professional and personal development’ before inviting participants more widely.

Facebook is banking the administration and running of ‘mentorships’ not only around specific Groups, but will be relying on Group administrators. Admins will decide whether they want to enable mentorships within their communities, and then they will pair people together, make introductions, and so on. Thereafter, they can communicate through a guided program set up by Facebook, or directly through Messenger. In both cases, conversations are completely private between the mentor and mentee.

Authentication for popular Pages in the US

People managing Facebook pages with large American followings will now need to take extra steps to verify their identity, according to an announcement made by the company last week. Page managers have to go through an authorization process including two–factor authentication to continue posting on their Pages. They also have to confirm which country they’re operating out of.  If a page manager needs to authorize their account, they’ll get a notice at the top of their Newsfeed later this month, Facebook says. This information will be added into a forthcoming site section called “People Who Manage This Page,” which will list which countries these pages are being managing from. While this will initially appear only on pages with a large US audience, it is likely that Facebook will eventually be rolling out this feature across all pages.

The caution and attempts at increasing transparency on its platform precedes the mid-term elections in the US scheduled for later this year. Apart from Russian meddling via Internet Research Agency, it was found that fake accounts and pages, posing as those of American users, were created to spread disinformation and polarize Facebook users.

Partnership with Asian College of Journalism to train students

Last week, Facebook announced a partnership with Chennai-based Asian College of Journalism (ACJ). Part of the Facebook Journalism Project — announced last year to develop high-quality journalism around the world — the partnership will also establish a scholarship programme at ACJ. The company said that students will be trained on fact-checking and ‘high integrity journalism in the digital age’.

Facebook is also extending its collaboration with Mumbai-based BOOMLive, an independent digital journalism initiative verified by Poynter Institute, the international fact-checking network. “Following fact checking in English during the Karnataka pilot stage, BOOMLive will now provide fact checking capabilities in Hindi and Bengali, and fact-check photos and videos, in addition to article links,” Facebook noted.