Facebook is launching in France from Tuesday its news feed dedicated to journalistic content, Facebook News, as a guarantee of increased visibility for the media and a symbol in the face of allegations of disinformation directed against the social network. Initially, this service will be provided to a small number of French Facebook users.
After this launch, its distribution will be gradual and Facebook news should be available to all users in France by May, according to Meta, the US group that owns the social network. France becomes the fifth country to launch Facebook news, after the US at the end of 2019, the UK in January 2021, Germany in May and Australia in August.
“Along with the classic Facebook news feed (where content shared by a user’s friends and contacts appears, editor’s note), Facebook News is a place where we only provide information from trusted sources” because it is generated by real media, Jesper Doub told AFP. . director of media partnerships in Europe at Meta.
An agreement that plans to reward the French press
The launch of Facebook News in France was made possible by the signing of a framework agreement with the Alliance for General Information Press (Apig), which Facebook announced in October. Under this agreement, French daily press publishers are paid for two years for the use of their content.
Under this agreement, many national or regional dailies are included in Facebook News, including Le Parisien/Aujourd’hui en France, Le Figaro, Le Journal du Dimanche, Les Échos, newspapers of the Ebra group (Le Progrès, L Alsace, and etc.) Nice-Matin or La Voix du Nord.
At the same time, Meta has made agreements with other media outlets, which are thus also included in the Facebook news at its launch, including BFMTV/RMC, Capital, Femme Actuelle, L’Équipe, L’Express, Libération and also here.
“Discussions are ongoing and other partners will definitely join the list,” Mathieu Fritsch, Meta’s head of media partnerships in France and Southern Europe, told AFP.
General section, personal section
Specifically, Facebook news will be available through a new tab in the Facebook app. By clicking on this tab, the user will have access to the information feed, which will present journalistic content in the form of thumbnails, with the title of the article, the image and the name of the media. The content on the Facebook page itself cannot be read: these thumbnails will contain links to the media site. Therefore, it will not be possible to read a paid article for free.
Facebook News will consist of two sections. One, common to all users, will represent most of the day’s news, “like TV news at 8 pm,” according to Jesper Doob. While others will be personalized according to the interests of the user. According to Matthieu Fritsch, Facebook news will be both a guarantee of “quality” and “diversity” in access to information.
For the media, it will be “a great opportunity to expand their audience” by reaching different audiences, even to gain new subscribers, he further estimated, recalling that Facebook has 40 million monthly users in France.
AFP subsidiary responsible for information selection
The launch of Facebook News is due to the fact that the social network is regularly accused of being a channel for spreading false information through content from dubious sources. “We believe journalism is essential to the health of our democracies,” defended Jesper Doub, director of media partnerships.
The content displayed in the section shared by all users will be selected by journalists working for AFP’s subsidiary, Media Services. The choice is “recognition of the expertise and quality of work of our subsidiary specializing in editorial content on demand,” commented AFP CEO Fabrice Fries, quoted in a Meta press release.
The company already pays more than 80 media outlets worldwide, including AFP, through the content verification program. But the contract signed under Facebook News is separate from that agreement.