More details are trickling out about Facebook’s planned News tab, in which Facebook will pay participating news publishers to display their headlines and article previews, and which is reportedly launching sometime this fall. On Tuesday, The Information published details from an internal Facebook memo with guidelines about how stories will be presented. A few tidbits:
— Human editors will be responsible for curating a “Top News” tab.
Facebook’s human editors won’t feature stories “constructed to provoke, divide, and polarize” & will “prioritize stories with on-the-record sources” @alexeheath & @jtoonkel report all the details from internal guidelines for upcoming news “tab.”https://t.co/HZVpCzBk7c
— Amir Efrati (@amir) September 10, 2019
— The editors will look at articles’ sourcing in deciding what to feature. They’re supposed to “seek to promote the media outlet that first reported a particular story, and additionally prioritize stories broken by local news outlets.” (If the editors really end up following those guidelines, and if Facebook News gets enough participation from local publishers, the offerings in the tab will look pretty different from those in Apple News, which, as CJR reported this week, is barely featuring stories from local news publishers, often featuring national publications’ versions of stories that were first reported by local outlets instead.)
2/ This approach represents a serious reversal from not being “arbiters of truth.” Fascinating how Facebook continues to want it both ways. Freedom of Speech and everything goes in News Feed but more rules elsewhere.
— Jessica Lessin (@Jessicalessin) September 10, 2019
Facebook hasn’t yet confirmed the publishers it’s working with. Per The Information: “One person who has seen a version of the tab being tested by Facebook employees said it featured stories from The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, CBS News, National Geographic, BBC, The Huffington Post, and The Hill, though some of those publishers don’t appear to have officially struck agreements with Facebook yet.” (No Fox News?) The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Facebook was offering publishers three-year licensing deals in which it would pay them as much as $3 million a year. But, as CNN’s Dylan Byers noted last week (he also says the money on the table is more like $2 to $2.5 million), the News Tab is an easier sell for some publishers than others: Many of the small and mid-sized publishers he’d talked to had already signed on (“If you’re a website like the Dallas Morning News or BuzzFeed, this is effectively free money. Facebook isn’t asking you to spend the money on creating new content — it’s just giving it to you in order to link back to what you already produce. It’s a 100 percent profit margin”), while some larger news outlets are balking: Yeah, it’s a lot of money, but “it’s ultimately not that much relative to what your company (or parent company) already makes on its own.”
Interesting round up of reaction to Facebook’s news tab from @DylanByers . Fwiw, my thoughts are that $2m a year for 3 years is quite a lot more for syndication than FB would pay for aggregation – or even Apple News type content. So why? https://t.co/pPAp6zq8J2
— emily bell (@emilybell) September 6, 2019