Facebook intends to expand Facebook News, its dedicated tab for curated news content, in the UK in the next few months as part of an expansion beyond the US.
Facebook News was launched in the US at the end of last year and the social media behemoth is now planning to bring the product to the UK, Germany, France, India and Brazil “within the next six months to a year”.
In each country, it is designed to ensure users have access to quality news sources that are free from misinformation and fake news that has plagued the platform in recent years.
Publishers need to register as news pages and follow the company’s publisher guidelines and community standards, which means they are forbidden from posting misinformation.
"Thousands" of publishers are registered on Facebook News in the US, a Facebook spokesman told Campaign, including national and local news.
The company negotates licensing deals with individual pubilshers in order to use their headlines and previews for news articles. "We will be talking to partners about compensation for their participation in Facebook News," the spokesman added.
When Facebook was considering launching Facebook News last year, a leaked story in the Wall Street Journal reported Facebook had told US publishers they could receive as much as $3m (£2.5m) for annual licences.
Nevertheless, publishers that rely on advertising will suffer if audience traffic is diverted away from their own websites and apps in favour of consuming the same content on Facebook instead.
Last month the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority recommended the government should launch a “digital markets unit” to ensure Facebook and Google - which dominate 80% of the £14bn digital ad market in the UK - do not engage in exploitative or exclusionary practices.
In a recent Campaign Podcast episode discussing the CMA’s report into Facebook and Google dominance, ID5 chief strategy officer Joanna Burton warned there has a been a dramatic drop in the number of publishers and number of journalists in the UK because of how Facebook and Google feature quality media content on their platforms but keep the valuable audience data for themselves.
"One of the really important recommendations in the report is the idea about data separation and about [whether] should these parties be asked to share their data with other publishers and people in the ecosystem," she said. "It’s more likely that we’ll end up with ‘no-one has access to the data’, but the current situation is there’s too much data in too few hands."
Facebook News is curated by a team of human editors, similar to how Apple operates its news app for iPhone/iPad users, and is personalised based on user behaviour which is meant to improve with usage over time. Users are also given controls to hide publishers, articles and subjects that do not appeal to them.
Campbell Brown, vice-president, global news partnerships at Facebook, said: Consumer habits and news inventory vary by country, so we’ll work closely with news partners in each country to tailor the experience and test ways to deliver a valuable experience for people while also honoring publishers’ business models.
"We will continue to focus on growing engagement of Facebook News in the US and we’re committed to the partnerships we’ve developed with US publishers to make Facebook News a valuable asset over the long term."