PALO ALTO (CBS / AP) — Facebook is looking to strengthen its relationship with the news media and has already helped boost traffic to news websites, a top executive told journalists Thursday.

Facebook’s “like” buttons have become ubiquitous since they launched a year ago. News sites, blogs and other media outlets sometimes use the less enthusiastic “recommend,” but the effect is the same — people share stories with their friends on Facebook, and those friends click on the links to read the stories. The company credits those links for a fourfold increase in referrals to news sites.

Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said such engagement can help an industry that is looking for more ways to boost online traffic and revenue. She said Facebook wants to help by providing the technological tools to share content.

“In a world where people are spending so much time on Facebook … we want news to be a big part of that,” Sandberg told the American Society of News Editors at its annual convention in San Diego.

She said she uses Facebook for two things — connecting with family and friends and getting her daily news.

Facebook recently unveiled a Facebook page for journalists who want to use social media as a tool in their reporting and source building around the globe. The company also plans to host workshops to teach journalists how to take advantage of the social networks.

Sandberg said NPR has used social networks to tell readers what’s happening in real time. Journalists can also use it in their search for people to be interviewed for news stories, by sending out requests asking if anyone has information on an event or developing news story.

In a separate announcement earlier Thursday, Facebook said it wants to help others build startups more easily and efficiently by sharing the technology behind the servers that power its massive online social network. In turn, it hopes to benefit from others’ innovations, too.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)


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