For a while now Facebook has been trying to prove that they have a place in the news business. Facebook Stories was one attempt to encourage embedding Facebook posts for news stories, and their Trending section and Instant Articles have continued the theme.
Today Facebook has announced another stab at the 24-hour news cycle. They introduced Signal, a new platform for journalists to research, discover and embed content. Signal pulls both from Facebook and Instagram and, according to a company blog post, allows journalists “to make Facebook a more vital part of their news gathering with access to relevant trends, photos, videos, and posts on Facebook and Instagram for use in their storytelling and reporting.”
Just last month Facebook announced the Mentions app for all verified profiles. This app allows the popular kids to live broadcast as well as create posts that are only for their followers.
Signal is different because it acts as a bank of information that can be sorted and searched through to suit the journalist’s needs. Currently, my Trending topics page just shows results influenced by my interests, pages I’ve liked, and posts I’ve engaged with. Signal doesn’t respond to the journalist’s personal Facebook information, instead it gives a broad overview of what is actually trending across Facebook and Instagram. According to Facebook, Signal can also give journalists a first-hand look at what topics are beginning to trend before they go viral.
Looking through the screenshots of Signal, it’s reminiscent of HootSuite or Tweetdeck. If a journalist is researching a certain band, or group of politicians, they can create a “collection” of Facebook profiles or Instagram handles to follow those accounts.
As a journalism school graduate, I'm hard pressed to believe my professors will suddenly endorse Facebook as the newest research tool. But Signal is a step in the right direction because journalists want information that can be sifted through and easily used.