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Facebook to shake up its news content in a deal worth millions for publishers

Facebook is prepping the launch of a “news tab” that could see media outlets paid millions of dollars in exchange for their content.

News of the plan first appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, August 8, and was later confirmed by Facebook to Digital Trends, though the social networking giant declined to offer any specific details about the initiative.

Sources claiming to have knowledge of the matter told the Journal that Facebook has so far approached the likes of ABC News, Dow Jones, The Washington Post, and Bloomberg to offer up to $3 million a year in exchange for their news content. But it’s not currently clear if this figure is per media outlet or a payment to be shared across the companies. Either way, it marks a move away from the payment model used by Facebook’s Instant Articles, which gives publishers a cut of the revenue generated by ads shown with the stories.

The new section will reportedly allow media outlets to decide how much of an article shows on the site. In other words, the entire text of an article could appear on Facebook, or simply a headline and a short preview with a link that would take the reader to the outlet’s website where they can read the rest of the piece.

The new feature, which is expected to launch in the fall, appears to be part of efforts by Facebook to tackle ongoing criticism that it is hammering established media outlets by soaking up ad revenue once enjoyed by those organizations. Google has also come under fire for the same reason, with the two online giants together pulling in around 60% of all digital ad revenue in the U.S. in 2018, the Journal said.

Zuckerberg: We want to help journalists

Those following Facebook closely may not be surprised by the company’s plan to launch such a feature. Earlier this year, for example, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg hinted at the idea during a chat with Mathias Döpfner, CEO of German publishing powerhouse Axel Springer.

During the talk, Zuckerberg said he felt it was important to “help people get trustworthy news and find solutions that help journalists around the world do their important work,” adding that he wanted to incorporate features into the social networking site that enabled users to access “more high-quality news” while at the same building “a business model and ecosystem” that would allow the feature to thrive.

While news junkies can still find plenty of news content throughout Facebook, a tab linked to established and well-known media brands would offer a one-stop shop for their daily fix.

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