Meta announces closure of dedicated news tab and end of support for the Community News Project
Meta is to end the dedicated news tab on its Facebook platform in Germany, the United Kingdom and France towards the end of this year.
In a post, Meta said it knew that "people don’t come to Facebook for news and political content – they come to connect with people and discover new opportunities, passions and interests. News makes up less than 3% of what people around the world see in their Facebook feed, so news discovery is a small part of the Facebook experience for the vast majority of people."
Adding that "European news publishers will continue to have access to their Facebook accounts and Pages, where they can post links to their stories and direct people to their websites in the way any other individual or organisation can."
Finally, the company said any existing deals with news publishers would be honoured until they expire.
In addition, the UK's National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) has said funding for the Community News Project, that paid for local news reporters in the UK using cash ultimately from Meta, has now ended.
The NCTJ reassured current community news reporters "that their contracts and training arrangements are unaffected by the news."
There is likely a preemptive element to the News tab move, as countries increasingly look to address the issue of seriously weakened national and local news networks by passing laws that make platforms such as Facebook pay for news content that is published on their platforms.
By abolishing a dedicated news tab, Meta can possibly argue that what is posted on the platform is the sole concern of whatever organisation it originates from.
Meta is seemingly of a mind that the entire "news" category is more trouble than it is worth, requiring greater moderation and leaving the company with potential political exposure it does not want.
Equally, some would argue that is precisely what Meta wants news organisations to think so it doesn't need to pay for content. Controversy still drives a lot of social traffic after all.