Facebook news articles could soon get their own paywall

Chris Davies - Aug 23, 2017, 1:47 pm CDT
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Facebook news articles could soon get their own paywall

Facebook is set to launch a subscription service for publishers, allowing news organizations sharing their stories through the social network to charge for content. The move comes as Facebook tries to address both rising news media concerns that the site’s algorithm has too much control over their long-term fate, and issues around the propagation of “fake news” in the timeline. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, moves are underway to address both of these things.

Confirming the new subscription system on his own Facebook page, the company founder said that it had been developed after meeting with news organizations over the past year. “If people subscribe after seeing news stories on Facebook, the money will go directly publishers who work hard to uncover the truth, and Facebook won’t take a cut,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We plan to start with a small group of U.S. and European publishers later this year and we’ll listen to their feedback.”

Unsurprisingly, Facebook is tying all this into its own Instant Articles system. Ostensibly intended to speed up how quickly users of the site can start reading content, but also notably keeping them on Facebook’s servers rather than letting them escape to a third-party site, Instant Articles will be a requirement of the new subscriptions service, Mashable reports.

There’ll be two options for how subscriptions will be enacted. On the one hand, there’ll be support for a full paywall, with readers having to cough up a monthly fee in order to get access to articles. Alternatively, publishers will be able to have certain locked articles, which will require payment in order to read.

Facebook will be adding notifications, encouraging subscriptions. However, the payment processing for the subscriptions themselves will all be carried out on the publisher’s own systems, it’s said. There’s no word on when or if Facebook will decide it wants a cut of the proceeds down the line.

Meanwhile, other changes will help make it clear where news articles are coming from. Facebook plans to add publisher logos to stories, both when they search for a story and when one shows up in the trending stories sidebar. “Eventually,” Zuckerberg said, “our goal is to put a publisher’s logo next to every news article on Facebook so everyone can understand more about what they’re reading.”


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