March 1, 2021

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Facebook News launches in UK amid journalism payment standoff

2 min read

Facebook has launched its News feature in the UK, a dedicated section featuring articles from national and local press, as the social network faces heightened criticism for its treatment of news outlets and publications.

Under the Facebook News section users will find recent headlines and stories tailored to their interests, as well as news digests during major news events such as the coronavirus pandemic.

The stories displayed are a combination of articles selected by a team of journalists and algorithmic recommendations based on the kind of news that users read, share and follow. UK news partners include the Financial Times, Channel 4 news and i owner the Daily Mail Group.

News payments standoff

Facebook recently threatened to remove all news content from user feeds in Australia as part of an ongoing row with the Australian government over payments to its news industry.

The country has proposed legislation that would force Facebook and fellow tech giant Google to pay news media companies for their content, leaving an independent arbiter to decide the payment amount if the parties cannot reach an agreement.

How articles will appear in the Facebook News article feed
(Photo: Facebook)

The proposed laws are designed to address what the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission called the “bargaining power imbalance” between news businesses and Big Tech, following years of declining revenue for news businesses after Facebook and Google swiftly grew to dominate the online advertising sphere.

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Facebook’s ‘news tab’ should be viewed like much of its content – with suspicion

Josh Machin, Facebook’s head of public policy for Australia, said the company was considering preventing both regular citizens and news organisations from posting links to news articles on the platform, claiming that news articles represented less than 5 per cent of what the average user encountered in their feed.

Creating a sustainable news industry

Jesper Doub, Facebook’s director of news partnerships in Europe, said the launch of Facebook News was the product of conversations with news organisations, saying the company’s goal “has always been to work out the best ways we can support the industry in building sustainable business models”.

“As we invest more in news and pay publishers for more content in more countries, we will work with them to support the long term viability of newsrooms,” he added.

Facebook first introduced a dedicated news tab for a select number of US users in October 2019.

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