Last week Meta announced that it would cut funding for news publishers on content that was pushed on the News Tab of the Facebook platform. The company introduced the program in 2019 as it enhanced efforts to partner with news media prior to the 2020 election. The Meta News Publisher funding program offered a way for newsrooms around the globe to monetize news content on Facebook, with funding coming directly from the platform and through advertising from incoming traffic.
Distancing from controversial news headlines and cutting costs…
…are likely the primary motivators for this move. Meta appears to be distancing itself from the increasingly unpopular image it has earned as a ‘news distributor’ and ‘fact checker.’ As it aligns its goals with independent content creators — aka those fueling the Creator Economy, which is estimated to generate $104.2 billion in 2022 — Meta decided to cut funding on the portion of the program that rewarded professional newsrooms directly.
“A lot has changed since we signed deals three years ago to test bringing additional news links to Facebook News in the U.S.. Most people do not come to Facebook for news. As a business, it doesn’t make sense to over-invest in areas that don’t align with user preferences,” wrote a spokesperson for Meta in a statement. Newsrooms can still earn traffic-based advertising revenue from content boosted on Facebook’s News Tab feature.
And yet, Facebook is one of the most popular news sources in the USA (even if they don’t want to admit it).
Futuri’s nationwide audience research and social media monitoring confirms that people do actually use Facebook to consume and share news. In fact, hyperlocal news is shared more on Facebook and Instagram than any other platform. At the same time, according to our most recent research study conducted in collaboration with SmithGeiger, it is among the least trusted news sources despite being the most used.
Nonetheless, Meta intends to shift its focus away from funneling traffic to mainstream media news platforms, instead driving traffic to content creators making native content for the Facebook app. Media companies who have come to depend on Meta’s platforms for a large percentage of their inbound traffic are going to see a more urgent need to invest in creating compelling content and developing new traffic sources for their own platforms.