November 29, 2021

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5 Things You Need to Know About Facebook’s Just Announced News Tab

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5 Things You Need to Know About Facebook’s Just Announced News Tab

Facebook has unveiled a news tab where users can read a curated list of articles, marking the social media giant’s return to news after deemphasizing news in recent years.

Facebook, which announced the news service on Friday, has partnered on the effort with the New York Times and Washington Post, as well as local news outlets in Miami, Atlanta, and Dallas-Fort Worth. Those deals involve Facebook paying for the articles, providing a new source of revenue to news publishers that have previously accused Facebook of failing to compensate them.

“On a financial basis, this is the first time we are forming long-term, stable relationships and partnerships with a lot of publishers,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at an event in New York to introduce the news service.

The news tab, which will be available to a limited number of U.S. users as a test, comes as Facebook faces criticism for how its handles misinformation on its service. While it says it features only higher-quality news in its news tab, the company has recently defended allowing political figures to lie in advertisements.

Here what you need to know about Facebook News.

Where to find News Tab

Facebook is testing the News Tab with a small number of U.S. users before making it available more widely. The service can be found in Facebook’s mobile app, but not on the social network’s desktop interface.

Inside the tab, users will see a list of the day’s top stories and topic sections, such as business, health, and science. There is also an area where users can link any paid news subscriptions they have and chose which publications they do or do not want to see.

As in the past, news articles will still continue to appear in Facebook’s desktop and mobile news feeds alongside updates from friends, family, and pages a person follows.

What publications are available

Articles from The New York Times, Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and BuzzFeed will be available in Facebook News. Some local news outlets will also be included.

Zuckerberg emphasized that Facebook is making only trusted publications available in its news service. But in a controversial decision, Facebook has also included far-right news site Breitbart. Facebook said it wouldn’t pay Breitbart and that Facebook would only have access to articles that Breitbart directly shares on Facebook.

“I think part of having this be a trusted source is it needs to have a diversity of views,” said Zuckerberg, who has been accused by conservatives of censoring pro-conservative publications.

Breitbart’s inclusion was denounced by Media Matters for America, a progressive nonprofit organization.

“Breitbart is not a news outlet. It is a right-wing political operation that spreads lies, foments extremism and pushes white supremacy,” Media Matter CEO Angelo Carusone said in a statement.

What Facebook pays publishers

Facebook is reportedly paying some publishers millions of dollars, but it has no specific, one-size-fits-all formula to calculate that amount, Zuckerberg said. Instead, Facebook will take into account the types of content publishers make available.

“We value things like the amount of content people are producing that is high quality,” Zuckerberg said. And “the scale of the people who are subscribers or viewers of that content.”

What data it collects

Facebook, which has been criticized for its data privacy practices, says it has worked with publishers to figure out the kinds of data to provide them.

“We don’t give data to advertisers so that’s not changing here,” Zuckerberg says.

Facebook does not plan to share any personal information with publishers, including details about which stories a specific user reads, unless that person links their account to any news subscriptions they may have.

“What the tab facilitates is a person clicking through to publisher websites and if that publisher shows you a subscription paywall or pushes you to sign up for a newsletter, than you have the option of sharing that directly with the publisher and they then have a direct relationship with you,” a Facebook representative tells Fortune.

Human and machine will choose news articles

News curators who have journalism backgrounds will chose the day’s top stories. Zuckerberg says this team will have editorial independence, freeing them to surface articles about Facebook or their boss, no matter how unflattering they may be.

Elsewhere, Facebook will lean on its technology to create a more personalized experience for users who visit the tab that involves showing them articles that Facebook thinks they’re most likely to care about.

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