Facebook partners with The Telegraph to create positive sponsored news about itself

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

After years of overwhelmingly negative headlines about its conduct, Facebook has struck a deal with The Telegraph to create sponsored content under the title 'Being human in the information age'.

Over the course of March, 26 sponsored articles for print and online have been released, created by Telegraph Spark, the broadsheet's dedicated branded content arm. While Facebook has partnered with The Guardian in the past for a sponsored series, this collection takes on more hot-button topics like freedom of expression, feminism and radicalisation.

Stories include 'How Facebook is removing the threat of fake accounts', 'How donating on Facebook has transformed fundraising', 'How crypto-anarchism redefines the fight for freedom in the 21st century' and 'Why Facebook’s mission is to bring the world closer together'. In other words, many of these articles are explicitly pro-Facebook at a time of heavy criticism from commentators, government and citizens.

The brief summary of the series presented on its landing page has the following triumphant message - the series "take[s] a closer look at new challenges raised by the internet like fake news and data privacy – and how social media is tackling these challenges."

Sponsored content is often offered by news platforms as a healthy revenue stream that allows for a specific focus on one topical subject. For example, another recent Telegraph Spark series was sponsored by Ford Money and featured articles on personal savings and ISAs.

This selection of branded content has, since being uncovered in a Business Insider report by Rob Price yesterday, come under a lot of criticism from media and tech figures. Price, in tweets announcing the story, said "Facebook, beset by scandals, is exploring ways to sidestep the critical media ecosystem entirely to get its message out."