Facebook has to pay major UK media outlets millions of pounds a year to license their articles as the social network faces the threat of a government crackdown on its dominance of online advertising.
Most UK newspaper groups have signed up for the program, where their articles will be published in a news section of the site to be launched in January.
While most Facebook news consumption is currently done through shared links on a user’s main news feed, the new, dedicated news tab will involve social network employees selecting what. they consider the main stories of the day in the mainstream media.
In return, publishers are promised substantial sums of money and the promise of new readers.
Facebook declined to comment on the amount of money it is investing in the program, but some publishers privately hope to make millions of pounds a year from the multi-year deals they’ve signed with the social network. As a result, sources in the news industry have estimated that Facebook’s total annual bill is likely to reach tens of millions of dollars in the UK alone, changing the finances of struggling media.
“This is an extremely important investment and it is something we have been doing for several years,” said Sarah Brown, Facebook’s head of information partnerships in Northern Europe.
She said the Conservatives would prioritize the checks and balances associated with the original reports when choosing which stories to highlight: “Are these in-depth reporting, is it timely,” he offered. interesting angle, is it well informed? “
The Facebook News section will feature a mix of top stories chosen by curators employed by the Upday news aggregation service, as well as other stories algorithmically chosen to reflect a user’s interests.
Outlets that have signed up to become launch partners include The Guardian, The Daily Mirror, The Independent, all major UK regional news publishers and magazines such as The Economist. Facebook said it hopes to add other publishers to the deal, such as Rupert Murdoch’s News UK and Daily Mail owner DMGT who has yet to sign up.
Other news sites that have not signed a deal with Facebook, including hyperlocal sites, may still appear in the section if they meet certain standards criteria.
The direct injection of cash will appeal to an information industry that has largely lost to Facebook in the battle for the UK advertising market. It also comes at a time when the social network faces the threat of substantial government intervention from a new regulator designed to target its dominance in the online advertising market. Government sources have made it clear that they want Google and Facebook to do more to support the finances of news publishers.