Facebook, which has been the focus of negative headlines for years, is seeking to improve its image in the UK by paying The Daily Telegraph to publish positive stories about itself.

The sponsored native content is featured in both print and online and comes in a series called “Being human in the information age”, defending Facebook on its approach to fake news, hate speech, extremist content and other controversial issues that have hit its reputation.

According to Business Insider, The Daily Telegraph has published 26 articles already over the past month, with headlines such as “How to deal with cyberbullying” and “We want to make Facebook safe for everyone”.

Telegraph Spark, the 150-year-old newspaper’s sponsored content unit, is producing the series, which Facebook spokeswoman Vicky Gomes confirmed is part of a UK marketing campaign to raise awareness of the company’s positive initiatives.

“This is part of our larger marketing efforts in the UK with the goal of educating and driving awareness of our local investments, initiatives and partnerships here in the UK that have a positive impact on people’s lives,” she said.

“As part of this campaign, we’ve partnered with the Telegraph and there will be some profiles of London-based employees working on some of the toughest issues to keep our platform safe, as well as articles to educate people on topics like how to spot fake news and how to adjust their privacy settings.”

With a circulation of 363,000 in December 2018, the Daily Telegraph is a respected, right-leaning broadsheet that is traditionally popular with older readers.

While it is not uncommon for publishers to include clearly marked sponsored content among other articles, the latest tie-up between The Daily Telegraph and Facebook has already drawn some criticism over their timing.

As Business Insider noted, one article entitled “What action Facebook is taking to tackle terrorist content?” was published on March 13, just two days before a white supremist gunman killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Facebook and other social media platforms were heavily criticised at the time because the gunman livestreamed his murderous attack and it is estimated that it took 17 minutes before the video stream was taken down.

Sourced from Business Insider, Press Gazette, Washington Post; additional content by WARC staff