Facebook To Fund News Outlets, But Won’t Say Which Ones

Mark Zuckerberg is seen in 2010, with Facebook already the largest online social network but before its stock market debut

Facebook is rolling out a new feature, Facebook News, which is commonly being referred to as the News Tab. The feature will deliver news from 200 sources, including Breitbart News, to users of the social network. The company will also fund a selection of the 200 news sources, although it won’t say which ones or how much.

The list of 200 sources includes mostly mainstream news sources, including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, The New York Times, Condé Nast, Hearst, Business Insiders, and NBC. Some conservative outlets, including Breitbart News and Fox News, are also on the list.

Content from the 200 sources will be delivered to users via Facebook’s new “News Tab.” The content will in part be manually curated by a team of in-house journalists at the social network.

Mark Zuckerberg hosted publishers at an event in New York yesterday as part of the feature’s rollout, which will initially be to a limited number of users.

Associated Press reports that some – not all – of the 200 publishers will be paid “millions of dollars in some cases” for content, although Facebook has again remained silent about the details, saying only that it will pay “a range of publishers for access to all of their content.”

It is unclear how Facebook decided which of the 200 publishers to pay, what they are paying for, or how the company came to its decisions.

In a press release, Facebook VP of Global News Partnerships, Campbell Brown, said: “We talked to news organizations about what they’d like to see included in a news tab, how their stories should be presented and what analytics to provide.”

“We wanted to build this product in a consultative way, sharing our ideas and getting input from the industry,” wrote Brown.

Eligible publishers must be in Facebook’s News Page Index, and must meet a “range of integrity signals in determining product eligibility, including misinformation — as identified based on third-party fact checkers — community standards violations (e.g., hate speech), clickbait, engagement bait and others.”

Facebook has revealed a list of Facebook News’s features, which will include:

  • “Today’s Stories,” a selection of news stories for users picked by a team of journalists. (This may generate further questions about Facebook acting like a publisher, a point that has been regularly raised by members of congress and senators).
  • Personalization, that will send Facebook News readers new stories and sources based on what they have previously read, shared, or followed.
  • Controls that allow users to hide topics and publishers they don’t want to see.
  • In addition to paying publishers directly, Facebook News will link to publishers’ websites and apps, where they can collect ad revenue from readers.

In a tweet, USA Today said Facebook is making an effort to “highlight news from trusted and credible publishers.”

The New York Times, which is one of the publishers Facebook handpicked to feature in its new section, reported the new feature as a “truce with publishers,” which have long attacked the social network for damaging the news industry.

New York Times spokeswoman told Ad Age that “Facebook is taking a welcome first step toward recognizing the differential value of New York Times journalism.”

Are you an insider at Google, Facebook, Twitter or any other tech company who wants to confidentially reveal wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari at his secure email address allumbokhari@protonmail.com

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.



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