Facebook’s News tab, which was launched in 2019 with significant content deals for publishers, is set to go away for good in April. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has announced that it will “deprecate” Facebook News in the US and Australia in April 2024. This decision marks a significant shift in the company’s approach to news content.

Meta’s decision to shut down Facebook News comes as no surprise, given the company’s previous retreats from news-related initiatives such as Instant Articles. In 2022, Meta shifted its focus from news to the Creator economy, signaling a clear change in priorities. The departure of Campbell Brown, the former head of news partnerships at Meta, further underscored the company’s shifting priorities.

Despite its initial intentions to support journalism and democracy through Facebook News, Meta now claims that news content makes up less than 3 percent of what users see in their Facebook feeds. The company has decided to reallocate its resources towards content that users are more interested in, such as short-form videos. As a result, Meta will no longer enter new commercial deals for news content and will not offer new products specifically for news publishers.

The end of Facebook’s licensing deals will have significant ramifications for publishers, particularly in Australia. The $70 million per year that Facebook was paying to outlets like Sky News Australia, News Corp, Seven, Nine, and The Guardian will no longer be available. These deals were made in response to Australia’s News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, which aimed to address the power dynamics between tech platforms and news publishers.

As Facebook News comes to an end, publishers are faced with the challenge of driving traffic to their own websites without the platform’s support. Meta has encouraged publishers to continue posting links on their own pages and utilize products like Reels and ads to direct users to their websites. This shift underscores the growing autonomy and independence of publishers in reaching their audiences.

The demise of Facebook News serves as a reflection of Meta’s changing priorities and strategic direction. By shifting away from news content towards other forms of engagement, Meta is signaling a new era in its approach to content distribution. Publishers will need to adapt to these changes and find new ways to connect with their audiences in the evolving digital landscape.

Tech

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