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Facebook is putting $4.5 million into helping the news industry

The social network's latest quarterly profit was more than $5 billion.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the social network would emphasize local news, but the company has been beset by criticism of how it deals with misinformation on its site. 

James Martin/CNET

Facebook is directing $4.5 million toward helping the news industry, by donating to a fund for nonprofit newsrooms and kicking off a program to help publishers that need memberships to make money. 

The world's largest social network, which earned more than $5 billion in profit in its latest three-month quarter, said earlier this year that it would renew its focus on things like local news. But in the last month, the company has faced a wave of criticism about how it handles fake news and misinformation. Much of the latest outcry has stemmed from Facebook's inconsistent explanations about whether outlets like Infowars and harmful content cross the line and need to be removed. 

Facebook also has a long history of antagonizing traditional news outlets. Publishers have complained that the company has built a flourishing business thanks in part to social sharing of journalism but that it doesn't shoulder the expense of producing that content or share much of the reward.

In its latest announcement, Facebook said Thursday that it's launching a $3.5 million Facebook Membership Accelerator, which is a three-month pilot program designed to help news companies with membership models. 

It's also contributing $1 million to NewsMatch, which fund-raises for nonprofit newsrooms  in the US.

Facebook also provided an update about its Local News Subscriptions Accelerator, which started as a $3 million, three-month pilot program to help metropolitan newspapers with digital subscriptions. The company has dedicated another $500,000 to it, and it will continue to coach the group of metro news publishers from the pilot program through the end of this year.

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