Following its launch in the US, Facebook News is reportedly coming to the UK next month. As with a similar new feature from Google, Facebook is paying publishers to link to their news.
Make no mistake, Facebook would rather not pay for news, but it needs to make friends in the media at a time when publishers around the world increasingly fret about big tech platforms ‘stealing’ their audience and revenue.
And the political winds seem to be blowing in publishers’ favour. Just last Friday, the UK’s House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee published a report recommending that there should be “a compulsory 'news bargaining code’ to force digital platforms to pay news publishers for the right to use their content,” as Computer Weekly [$$$]
reports. I summarised some of the Lords’ report’s other recommendations in this thread
That 'bargaining code’ sounds a lot like the system in Australia, which Google is pushing hard against while at the same time paying publishers in some countries for its News Showcase feature. It seems it’s not so much whether publishers should be paid, but who sets the value, how much they’re paid, and what for, that are the biggest issues.
Still, if the experience of US publishers is anything to go by, UK news sites will get some cash but not a lot of traffic out of Facebook News. As Digiday [$$$]
puts it: “Facebook News still a non-factor in publishers’ plans.”