Facebook plans to roll out its News tab across US markets as it looks to retain users on its ever-growing platform.
The announcement signals a renewed focus for the social media giant, but it will have to resolve any brand safety issues before becoming a universal source of news.
The company is testing Facebook News in a limited trial in the US as a home screen tab and bookmark in the main Facebook app.
In a blog post, Facebook said that news articles will continue to appear in the main News Feed.
However, they said that creating a specific tab focused on journalism “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.”
The News tab was developed in consultation with publishers, and also based on feedback from a survey of more than 100,000 Facebook users in the US earlier this year.
Facebook News will use both human editors and algorithms to determine which stories a user sees.
There will be a section called Today’s Stories, curated by a team of journalists to highlight the biggest national news stories of the day.
Commenting on the move, Amie Lever, Head of Social at MediaCom, said: “The introduction of Facebook News is a strategic move by Facebook to retain its online dominance. For markets like the US that are reaching a point of user saturation, it is another way to encourage users to spend time on the platform, mirroring the introduction of Facebook Watch in 2017 and the focus on original video content. For newsrooms, changing their approach to journalism or reallocating resources means trusting a platform still plagued with brand safety issues.
“The News tab does pose a series of questions when there is a spotlight on political and social issues. How do journalists remain true to their craft and avoid curating stories tailored for Facebook? How does Facebook ensure users don’t fall into an echo chamber of news and categories ‘most relevant’ to them but instead gain an understanding of the full spectrum of news reporting? It’s Facebook’s responsibility to provide users with a variety of news from a variety of viewpoints while remaining unbiased.”
“Time will tell whether audiences interact with the News tab. Crucially, advertisers and Facebook must work together to ensure the News tab isn’t an afterthought (if, but more likely when it rolls out).”