The Decline of Facebook News

In a surprising turn of events, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has announced its decision to deprecate Facebook News in the US and Australia by April 2024. This move comes after the platform’s initial launch of the News tab in 2019, which included multimillion-dollar content deals for publishers such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and CNN. However, Meta has now made it clear that it will not enter into new commercial deals for news and will not be introducing any new products specifically for news publishers in the future.

Over the years, Facebook has undergone several changes in its approach to news content. In 2022, the platform shifted its focus from news to the Creator economy, signaling a change in priorities. This shift was further emphasized by the departure of Campbell Brown, the former head of news partnerships, in October. While the introduction of Facebook News in 2019 was aimed at supporting great journalism and strengthening democracy, Meta’s current stance highlights a different perspective.

Reevaluation of News Content on Facebook

Meta has stated that news makes up less than 3 percent of what users see in their Facebook feed and is only a small part of the overall Facebook experience for the majority of users. As a result, the company has decided to reallocate its resources towards content that aligns more closely with user preferences, such as short-form video. This shift will involve encouraging publishers to share links on their own pages and utilize features like Reels and ads to drive traffic to their websites, rather than relying on Facebook for distribution.

The end of Facebook’s licensing deals will have significant implications for publishers, particularly in Australia where the platform was paying $70 million per year to outlets such as Sky News Australia, News Corp, and The Guardian. These deals were established following the passage of the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code in Australia, which aimed to regulate the relationship between tech platforms and news publishers. With the expiration of these deals looming, publishers will need to adapt to new strategies for content distribution.

Global Regulatory Challenges

Facebook’s decision to deprecate Facebook News is not an isolated incident but part of a broader trend of regulatory challenges faced by tech platforms worldwide. In Australia, the temporary news ban imposed by Facebook in response to regulatory changes highlighted the power struggle between the government and tech companies. Similarly, Facebook and Instagram blocked news in Canada over similar legal disputes, underscoring the complexities of regulating news content on social media platforms.

Meta’s decision to deprecate Facebook News marks a significant shift in the platform’s approach to news content and signals a broader trend towards prioritizing user-generated content and short-form video. This move will have far-reaching implications for publishers and underscores the ongoing challenges faced by tech platforms in navigating regulatory landscapes across different countries. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how platforms like Facebook adapt to changing user preferences and regulatory pressures in the years to come.


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