After Abandoning News, Facebook Considers Bringing It Back
Facebook got out of the news game over a year ago. They did not abandon it altogether, but they cut out the trending topics on the sidebar and limited the amount of news they put in front of users. Now, founder Mark Zuckerberg appears to be thinking about changing course and adding news into the equation again. In fact, Facebook is even open to breaking out their rather large checkbook to pay to get this off the ground. They may pick publishers to pay for what they deem “high-quality news.” That could show that what Facebook was really against a year ago wasn’t news, but low-quality sources that spread misinformation on their platform.
Official plans and timelines are unclear right now, but Zuckerberg made some telling comments about the change while talking to Mathias Döpfner, the Axel Springer CEO.
“We talked about the role quality journalism plays in building informed communities and the principles Facebook should use for building a news tab to surface more high-quality news, including the business model and ecosystem to support it,” Zuckerberg noted. “[Paying a licensing fee is] definitely something that I think we should be thinking about here, because the relationship between us and publishers is different in a surface where we’re showing the content on the basis of us believing that it’s high-quality, trustworthy content.”
Paying would give an incentive to news organizations to produce high-caliber content that was well-researched and trustworthy, knowing that that would be the only type of content they could actually get on Facebook. In a situation where clicks and advertising generate revenue, media outlets may be tempted to promote low-quality content if they know it can bring in traffic. They have to pay the bills and that’s a great way to do it. Payments and fees could take straight revenue out of the equation and give Facebook the type of content Zuckerberg is looking for.
He even acknowledged that Facebook may not make money by doing this, but that doesn’t appear to be the goal. “We’re coming to this from a very different perspective than I think some of the other players in the space who view news as a way that they want to maximize their revenue,” he said. “That’s not necessarily the way that we’re thinking about this.”
Instead, they’re thinking about quality. They likely will not put up any sort of paywall for users, according to these reports, so they stand to potentially lose money on the deal. If that’s what it takes to get the quality he’s after, Zuckerberg is open to it.
That said, experts have been quick to point out that Facebook may not commit to any sort of payment plan and has not done so yet. They may still go the old way of using ad revenue, which they could back up with certain guarantees. The exact details are not ironed out as of yet, but one source claimed that a dedicated news tab could exist on Facebook by the end of the year. This would bring news content together so that people who use Facebook strictly for that content could find it more easily. They think that could be between 10 and 20 percent of users.
A Changing Landscape
News like this helps to demonstrate both how the social media landscape is always changing and how high quality content is always in demand. It’s important to know how to use both factors to your advantage as part of your online presence.