It’s been more than a year since Facebook announced that it would be featuring less news. And now, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a new idea for publishers: A section on the social media platform that will only be dedicated to ‘high-quality news’. He has also said that Facebook may pay publishers to post their content on this section.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed this idea in a conversation with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner. The conversation was recorded and then posted on Facebook by Zuckerberg. In his Facebook post, Zuckerberg said, “We talked about the role quality journalism plays in building informed communities and the principles Facebook should use for building a news tab to surface more high-quality news, including the business model and ecosystem to support it.”
In the video, Zuckerberg can be seen talking about building a feature on the social media platform for publishers. He said that Facebook could, “potentially have a direct relationship with publishers to make sure that their content is available if it’s really high-quality content.”
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With this, Zuckerberg has hinted about paying publishers on its platform some kind of licensing fee for posting in the dedicated section.
He added, “That’s definitely something that I think we should be thinking about here because the relationship between us and publishers is different in a surface where we’re showing the content on the basis of us believing that it’s high-quality, trustworthy content.”
However, it is worth noticing that Facebook has not spoken about charging customers for reading stories from this section and according to a report in Recode that quotes a person familiar with the matter, the news tab will be free for users.
According to what Zuckerberg said in the video, “We’re coming to this from a very different perspective than I think some of the other players in the space who view news as a way that they want to maximize their revenue. That’s not necessarily the way that we’re thinking about this.”
We should mention that this is a big deviation from Facebook’s usual strategy. The algorithm of the platform has made it increasingly difficult for publishers to make their content reach users unless they are willing to spend to reach to people.
We should also point out that this idea was being discussed internally by Facebook executives for months. The project has been led by Facebook’s outgoing product boss Chris Cox and its head of news partnerships Campbell Brown. Facebook has also tested the dedicated news tab internally. According to company executives, the new tab will be up by the end of 2019.
Zuckerberg also added:
“One of the things that I’ve been thinking about at Facebook is how to make it so that the people who use our services and want to get more news content can do that. You know, in News Feed, primarily people come to the service to connect with friends, to get updates on people’s day to day lives. There’s a lot of news content in there because it’s so important. But there’s a lot of people who have a demand to want more news … I think there are going to be, call it 10, 15, maybe 20 percent of people in our community, who really want to go deep and have an experience which is — that they can go to that’s all news that will give us hopefully the ability to dramatically increase the distribution and, if it’s successful, the monetization to high-quality participants in the ecosystem so that’s something I’m personally excited about.”
Although Facebook has hinted that it would be paying publishers for posting their content in the dedicated section, till the time it directly says it, we would not be surprised to see it go back to its usual ways of making publishers pay instead.