After a video in April 2019 in which Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, first mused about the possibility of bringing high-quality news to Facebook, the social network has officially confirmed that a dedicated news tab will launch in the fall. Details are limited at the moment, but Zuckerberg stated in his initial comments, “It’s important to me that we help people get trustworthy news and find solutions that help journalists around the world do their important work.”
How Will The News Tab Work?
The “Trending Topics” tab that shuttered several years ago after an unfortunate mix of human and algorithmic mishaps seems to have offered some lessons about what this latest news-focused offering will be. While still a mix of humans and a robust algorithm, this newest news tab will rely on journalists to decide the top stories of the day through curation from a variety of sources still being determined, while the algorithm will populate the rest of the news feed based on user profiles. Facebook is already hiring journalists for the news tab indicating that a team of internal specialists, instead of outside contractors, will be part of the platform’s plan for the news tab.
Where Will Facebook Get Their News?
According to sources, Facebook has been in talks with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Bloomberg and The Atlantic about licensing agreements that will allow Facebook to either use headlines and article previews that drive traffic to the original sites, or host entire stories in the news tab. The Wall Street Journal reports that talks are still ongoing, with some news outlets nervous about committing to an agreement given Facebook’s history of trying and then quickly abandoning similar news-centered projects. Splitting ad revenue and upfront payments are among the ways that Facebook pays for sourced content in other tabs, although it appears that this time pricey licensing agreements are most likely.
Why Is Facebook Launching A News Tab?
Of the 68% of American adults who get at least some of their news from social media, 43% use Facebook as their primary source, which could explain why Zuckerberg wants to offer Facebook users “personalized” and “high quality” content. The Facebook news tab allows Facebook to assert its commitment to giving users quality content, amid various legal woes and criticisms that the social network hasn’t been careful enough about stopping fake news and propaganda. “Our goal with the News Tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience for people,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s Head of News Partnerships. “The majority of stories people will see will appear in the tab via algorithmic selection. To start, for the Top News section of the tab we’re pulling together a small team of journalists to ensure we’re highlighting the right stories.” The news tab will be mobile only and may begin testing in October.
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