Facebook has started launching its news section, which will give users a way to scan headlines and read some news stories. For a while now News Corp has been insisting that Facebook should pay up and now it seems they will spend millions of dollars a year for making their journalism available to Facebook.
Zuckerberg, as recently as May 2018, said he had no interest in paying publishers for the right to show their stories.
Facebook’s news program comes months after Apple launched a subscription news service, which shares revenue with publishers. However, the results of that partnership have been reported as being disappointing for both.
Facebook will roll out its news section Friday as an “alpha” launch, available to a couple hundred thousand US users - it won’t get a full release for a few months. Facebook users who do get it will see a new icon at the bottom of their mobile app alongside other initiatives like its Marketplace classified sales section and its Facebook Watch video section.
Users who click on the icon will see headlines for a handful of top stories, selected by Facebook editors — from partners like the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corp, Business Insider, and BuzzFeed — and a personalized selection of headlines selected by Facebook’s algorithmic software.
Clicking on those headlines will send users to the publishers’ own sites, where Facebook users can read the entire story for free. And while sites with subscription-based business models will have to let Facebook users see individual articles without paying, they’ll be able to keep their paywalls mostly intact. If you click on a Wall Street Journal article via Facebook’s news section, you’ll be able to read that one story, but if you click on a subsequent WSJ piece, you’ll be asked to pay up.
The programme isn’t supposed to diminish the presence of news in Facebook’s main Newsfeed, sources say. If your uncle shares a story about Donald Trump, you will probably still see it.
Sources say Facebook hasn't finalized deals with the New York Times, for instance, but that it expects to have them by the time the programme rolls out widely.
Facebook will pay some of its news partners as much as $3 million a year for three-year deals but doesn’t intend to pay all of the publishers in the programme. Publishers who don’t get paid will have to be content having Facebook send them traffic and potential subscribers.