An Ombudsman for Facebook?

The last few weeks have been an astonishing, and sadly violent news period. The shootings in the United States, and now the horror of the attack in Nice, were available to us in real time. We know that social media is a growing source of news for citizens. A Pew study indicates that in the United States, 62% of adults get news from these platforms, 18% of them do so often. Needless to say, those numbers are growing rapidly. All this is changing not only how we get information, but how we experience our world. Recently I was approached by a reporter from the website Inverse to talk about the value of an Ombudsman or public editor for Facebook. The conversation was prompted after the girlfriend of Philando Castile lived streamed video of shooting in Minnesota. The video briefly disappeared, due to a technical glitch, according to Facebook. Facebook and other social media sites struggle with standards and policies around what is posted on their sites -- whether it be video or blogs. The question put to me was “Does Facebook Owe Its Users a Public Editor?” I spoke to him in my role as President of the Organization of News Ombudsmen, an international group of public editors, standards editors, and public defenders. All of us are dedicated to accountability of open, ethical and credible news media.