The News Tab project that Facebook started a few years ago doesn’t seem to be a large part of that, as you’ve surely heard, as Facebook and Instagram will heavily favour AI-curated creator content moving forward. Axios claimed that Facebook’s parent company Meta is informing publishers that it will no longer be paying for the content that it has been collecting for the news tab, confirming earlier rumours.
In three-year content partnerships for news, Meta reportedly paid roughly $105 million (plus an additional $90 million for news videos). This includes $10 million for the Wall Street Journal, $20 million for the New York Times, and $3 million for CNN. The Wall Street Journal cited a source today who claimed that the paid news push was a “experiment that ultimately didn’t pay off” and that the growing regulation compelling Facebook and other internet firms to pay for news was the cause of the company’s dwindling excitement.
The whole initiative follows experiments that came and went in the previous few years, such as podcasts, the Novi cryptocurrency, the “Campus” revival of traditional Facebook, and the HouseParty clone Bonfire. The News page itself will stay, and you can read more about how it functions right here.
A statement from an unspecified Facebook spokesperson given to Axios said, “a lot has changed since we signed deals three years ago to test bringing additional news links to Facebook News in the U.S. Most people do not come to Facebook for news, and as a business it doesn’t make sense to over-invest in areas that don’t align with user preference.”
Although the definition of user preference can vary depending on who you ask, it doesn’t seem like Facebook’s paid aggregation push in the News tab since it launched in 2019 has had a significant impact. This is evidenced by the response to Instagram’s attempt at a TikTok impression and its shocking retreat.
In 2019, when Facebook unveiled the News tab, it talked up the potential of a section with daily top stories “chosen by a team of journalists” that could avoid the pitfalls of other News Feed adventures that occasionally promoted fake news, the Instant Articles that publishers didn’t like, or its infamous “pivot to video.” It was simply another area of Facebook that I had previously visited and had never returned to.