Facebook announced that it is starting to test Facebook News, which is described as “a dedicated place for news on Facebook”, to a subset of people in the United States. The initial test showcases local original reporting from the largest major metro areas of the country, beginning with New York, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Houston, Washington D.C., Miami, Atlanta, and Boston.
How does Facebook decide which publishers to include? The announcement provides an explanation.
They need to be in our News Page Index, which we developed in collaboration with the industry to identify news content. They also need to abide by Facebook’s Publisher Guidelines, these include a range of integrity signals in determining product eligibility, including misinformation – as identified based on third-party fact checkers – community standards violations (e.g. hate speech), clickbait, engagement bait, and others…. Lastly, they must serve a sufficiently large audience, with different thresholds for the four categories of publishers.
Facebook says it talked to news organizations about what they’d like to see included in a news tab, how their stories should be presented, and what analytics to provide. Facebook also talked to people and publishers, and identified key features to make Facebook news valuable.
Those key features are:
Today’s Stories – chosen by a team of journalists to catch you up on the news throughout the day.
Personalization – based on the news you read, share and follow, so you can find new interests and topics and Facebook News is fresh and interesting every time you open it.
Topic sections – to dive deeper into business, entertainment, health, science & tech, and sports.
Your Subscriptions – a section for people who have linked their paid news subscriptions to their Facebook account.
Controls – to hide articles, topics, and publishers you don’t want to see.
I find the part called “Your Subscriptions” interesting. I don’t use Facebook, so it never occurred to me that some people are buying a subscription to their favorite news sites and connecting it to their Facebook account. I cannot help but wonder how that affects the news site if people choose to start accessing it only through Facebook.