Facebook News expansion has been a long time coming. First launched in the US in 2019, it diversifies the social media giant’s portfolio of products away from the well-known Newsfeed. A partnership with Axel Springer will both expand the content available on the new service and its reach in Europe. 

Announced this Monday, the new deal will bring content from Europe’s biggest publishing house onto Facebook News. This includes such titles as Bild, Welt, and Business Insider. The service, already available in the UK (since early 2021), will now also be coming to Germany.

New relations with audiences, publishers

Facebook News focuses on bringing mobile app users a mixture of personalized, algorithmic and curated news content. It basically works like this: Facebook curates news from different sources for the customer, based on their interests. The users can update the preferences and are free to hide the content they don’t want to see.

As Facebook put it themselves: “Take control of your news experience by hiding articles and publishers or requesting to see more of the ones that interest you. Discover new topics and stories based on the news you read, share and follow.”

Interestingly, curation in the UK is mostly done by Upday, a collaborative news personalization joint project of Axel Springer and Samsung. Upday’s role is set to expand to cover the German market as part of the new deal.

From Introducing Facebook News website

There has been criticism of the solution, mostly focusing on the already oversized role of Facebook in driving content to publishers. There are also concerns that aggregation via yet another social media product means relations between publishers and audiences will suffer. 

Nonetheless, hundreds have already signed on to the service. While exact sums are unclear, Techcrunch reported that collectively the deals run into the “tens of millions of pounds”

Mathias Doepfner, CEO of privately-held Axel Springer, announced the launch of the global cooperation deal on their official website, saying

“People looking for news on Facebook should have access to content that captures the breadth and depth of topics that are most meaningful to them. In creating Facebook News and partnering with Axel Springer globally, we’ll be able to give people an even wider choice of reliable journalistic content across a number of news outlets.”

The word “reliable” is a key here. Facebook has a list of News Page Index and a guideline for publishers, to make sure the content is eligible to be distributed as reliable and fact-checked. 

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