It’s no secret that publishers have a “love-hate” relationship with Facebook, recently leaning more toward the latter. However, Facebook is hoping to make amends, or at least throw them a bone, with a new service that will allow users to buy online subscriptions to news publishers.
Facebook’s head of partnerships, Campbell Brown, touted the social network’s plans for paid subscriptions for news publishers during the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit in New York City on Tuesday, according to The Street, which first reported the news.
As described by Brown, the subscription system would enable publishers to limit the number of articles Facebook users can see for free through their news feed, capping it at 10 articles. After that, they would have to buy a subscription.
The system would also allow publishers to direct traffic to their own Web sites, where they can sell subs directly. Authentication would then allow users to continue accessing content through their Facebook news feed. Users who have already subscribed elsewhere are grandfathered in.
The system would also allow publishers to employ a “freemium” model if desired.
Facebook will begin testing the subscription system, an extension of its Instant Articles feature, in October, with a broader rollout to follow next year. Campbell Brown disclosed that Facebook is already in talks with several news publishers about participating in the launch of the service.
Also this week, Facebook announced a new initiative to combat fake news, by preventing Facebook users from changing the headline, text excerpts of images for Facebook stories through the page composer or API before sharing them in their news feed.
Among other things, this feature allowed fake news visitors to post misleading headlines and text to get users to click on a fake story, or replace the blurbs for a legitimate news story to change its meaning.
However, Facebook will allow legitimate publishers to continue using these features, which have been useful for testing different presentations and targeting news to specific audiences. To access the features, publishers will have to verify their ownership of a legitimate Web domain through a new tab on the Page Publishing Tools menu and receive authorization from Facebook.
As noted, Facebook’s relationship with publishers has been rocky at best. It recently reached a new low earlier this month.
The News Media Alliance, a trade group representing many of the country's biggest newspapers, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, revealed it is lobbying to revise antitrust laws in order to allow newspapers to bargain collectively with Google and Facebook.