Facebook debuts news section

Facebook News goes on trial in the US with story content supplied by media companies

The long promised Facebook News section, which features content exclusively from media companies, has gone live as a limited test in the US.

The social platform's users will continue to be able to access media stories in their main news feed, but the latest stories will also be presented to them via a dedicated Facebook News section, which is a home screen tab and a bookmark in the main Facebook app.

Facebook News will use both human editors and algorithms to determine which stories its users see. A section called Today’s Stories, will be curated by a team of journalists to highlight the day's most important news, but story suggestions will also be presented based on the user’s interests and activity.

Interestingly, Facebook News will also include a section where users can access content from media sources to which they have subscribed. Subscriptions and paid membership schemes have proved to be lucrative emerging revenue sources for news companies such as The New York Times and The Guardian.

In a blog post, Facebook’s Campbell Brown (vice president of global news partnerships) and Mona Sarantakos (product manager, news) said the innovation “gives people more control over the stories they see and the ability to explore a wider range of their news interests directly within the Facebook app.”

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The News tab has apparently been developed in consultation with publishers and is based on feedback from a survey of more than 100,000 US Facebook users.

To be included in the section companies must be part of Facebook’s News Page Index and also by abide by the company’s Publisher Guidelines.

Among the media companies featured in Facebook News are The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, Bloomberg, Fox Business, Business Insider, NPR, BuzzFeed and the LA Times.

Social platforms are currently undergoing a period of consolidation in their dealings with media publishers. Apple recently launched its News+ feature in the UK, where users can access premium content from a number of news and magazine companies for a monthly fee.

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