Facebook to pay UK publishers for their content

Facebook News will go live next month and aims to support media outlets with new audiences, additional advertising and subscription opportunities

(FILES) This file photo taken on August 28, 2019 shows the logo of US online social media and social networking service, Facebook displayed on a tablet in Lille. Facebook on November 30, 2020 announced it is buying a startup specializing in helping businesses interact with customers online. / AFP / DENIS CHARLET
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Facebook will roll out its paid news tab Facebook News in the UK from next month, the company said late Monday.

The social media giant, which is facing a government clampdown over its dominance of online advertising in the UK, will pay publishers for content that is not already on its platform. It will help publishers "reach new audiences and bring more advertising and subscription opportunities", the company said in a statement.

“Facebook News offers a mix of curated and personalised top stories to deliver informative, reliable and relevant news,” Jesper Doub, Facebook’s director for news partnerships, said.

Facebook News was rolled out in the US in June. In August, the company said the feature will be introduced in new markets including the UK, Brazil, India, France and Germany.

The UK launch will build on the success that Facebook News has seen in the US, where more than 95 per cent of the traffic it delivers to publishers is new audiences that have not interacted with those news outlets in the past, Mr Doub said.

Facebook did not disclose the amount of money it is investing in the UK Facebook News programme.

The first group of publishers featured in Facebook News in the UK includes Conde Nast, The Economist Group, Guardian Media Group, Hearst, Midland News Association and Reach, among others.

"These publishers are home to hundreds of the UK's best known and most loved national and local news brands ... will also include content from lifestyle brands such as Red, Harper's, Cosmopolitan, Wired … we expect many more partners to join prior to [the] launch," Mr Doub added.

Facebook is currently in negotiations to bring Facebook News to France and Germany, Mr Doub said. “We will continue to work with publishers in countries where market conditions and regulatory environments invite this kind of investment and innovation.”

Facebook News provides timely news digests and highlights original reporting on pressing topics. It also helps people to discover new topics and stories based on the news they read, share and follow.

"We are delighted to extend The Independent's longstanding strategic partnership with Facebook through the UK launch of Facebook News, helping to bring high-quality and trustworthy news to its UK users," said Zach Leonard, chief executive of The Independent, which has an average monthly global audience of 101 million unique users.

Facebook, which has trained 80 journalists across the UK through its $6 million Community News Programme, also announced a year-long extension of the initiative with an additional $3m to support local journalism.