Facebook intends to roll out Facebook News, its dedicated tab for curated news content, to five key markets including India, the UK, Germany, France and Brazil over the next "six months to a year".
Facebook News was launched in the US at the end of last year. 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 negotiates 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 US$3 million 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.
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."
It is noteworthy that Australia is absent from the list of markets due to launch the News offering, as the government prepares legislation to force Facebook and other tech platforms to pay publishers for news. While Facebook News answers this demand, the code being drawn up by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission contains far more comprehensive requirements for tech platforms to abide by.
(This article first appeared on CampaignAsia.com)