As of Tuesday, Facebook is launching its news feed reserved for journalistic content, Facebook News, a guarantee of increased visibility for the media and a symbol against accusations of disinformation directed at the social network. Initially, this service will begin to be introduced for a small number of French Facebook users.
After this launch, its generalization will be gradual and Facebook News should be available to all users in France by May, according to Meta, the American group that owns the social network. France becomes the fifth country to launch Facebook News, after the United States in late 2019, the United Kingdom in January 2021, Germany in May and Australia in August.
“In addition to the classic Facebook news feed (where content shared by the user’s friends and contacts appears, editor’s note), Facebook News is a place where we provide information only from verified sources,” because it produces real media, Jesper Doub told AFP , Director of Media Partnership for Europe at Meta.
An agreement that plans to pay the French press
The launch of Facebook News in France was made possible by the signing of a framework agreement with the General Information Press Alliance (APIG), which Facebook announced in October. The agreement plans to compensate French daily publishers for two years for using their content.
Under this agreement, many national or regional daily newspapers are included in Facebook news, including Le Parisien / Aujourd’hui en France, Le Figaro, Le Journal du Dimanche, Les Échos, Ebra Group newspapers (Le Progrès, L Alsace, etc.) Nice-Matin or La Voix du Nord.
At the same time, Meta signed contracts with other media outlets that were also included in Facebook News at the time of its launch, including BFMTV / RMC, Capital, Femme Actuelle, L’Équipe, L’Express, Libération and Here.
“Talks are continuing and other partners will certainly join the list,” Mathieu Fritsch, head of Meta’s partnership with the media in France and southern Europe, told AFP.
Common section, personalized section
In particular, Facebook news will be available via a new tab in the Facebook app. By clicking on this card, the user will access an informative feed that will present journalistic content in the form of thumbnails, with the title of the article, image and name of the media. Content cannot be read on the Facebook page itself: these thumbnails will contain links to the media page. Therefore, it will not be possible to read a paid article for free.
Facebook news will consist of two sections. One, common to all users, will present most of the daily news, “like 20-hour television news,” according to Jesper Doub. While others will be personalized according to the interests of the users. According to Mathieu Fritsch, Facebook News will also be a guarantee of “quality” and “diversity” in access to information.
For the media, this will be a “wonderful opportunity to expand its audience” by reaching different audiences, even to gain new subscribers, he further estimated, recalling that Facebook has 40 million users a month in France.
The AFP affiliate is responsible for selecting information
The launch of Facebook news comes after the social network is regularly accused of being a channel for spreading false information through content from suspicious sources. “We are convinced that journalism is key to the good health of our democracies,” defended Jesper Doub, director of media partnerships.
The content that appears in the section common to all users will be selected by journalists employed by AFP’s subsidiary, Media Services. This selection is “a recognition of the experience and quality of work of our subsidiary specializing in on-demand editorial content,” commented AFP Executive Director Fabrice Fries, quoted in a press release from Meta.
The company already pays more than 80 media outlets worldwide, including AFP, as part of its content verification program. But the contract signed as part of Facebook News is separate from this agreement.