Meta, the parent company of Facebook, announced today its decision to discontinue Facebook News in the United Kingdom, Germany, and France.
Facebook News, introduced by Meta in 2019, is a curated news section for publishers integrated into the main Facebook platform. Initially launched in the United States, it expanded to international markets, including the UK, Germany, Australia, and France. Despite plans to introduce the service in Brazil and India, these rollouts never materialised.
“We know 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,” Meta said.
The Facebook News section provides local and international news tailored to specific markets. Initially, it used both algorithmic and human curation to suggest articles. However, Meta transitioned to a fully algorithmic approach last year.
This decision aligns with Meta’s recent shift from prioritising news content on its platform. The divisive nature of certain news stories, particularly political ones, played a role in this shift. Meta has increasingly focused on the ‘creator economy’ and rebranded its news feed as a simple ‘feed’ in the previous year.
Beyond Meta’s internal changes, the broader landscape of online news distribution has faced challenges. Several countries, including Australia and Canada, have passed legislation requiring online platforms to compensate publishers for their content. This compelled tech companies like Google and Meta to remove platforms from Canada to negotiate agreements with publishers. Still, Meta’s response to these regulations has varied from one country to another.
Reuters has reported that Malaysia is in talks with Google, Meta and other online platforms for a Canada-like legislation.
In Europe, the EU Copyright Directive has recently prompted Meta and Google to establish licensing deals with publishers. Publishers have reported declining referral traffic from Facebook, confirming Meta’s reduced emphasis on news. The company maintains that news constitutes less than 3% of content in users’ feeds, a claim reaffirmed with this announcement.
It’s crucial to note that Meta’s decision to discontinue Facebook News in these European countries does not entail blocking links to articles or publishers’ pages. Instead, the dedicated News tab within the platform will be removed.