Meta to discontinue Facebook News in the UK, Germany, and France

Meta to discontinue Facebook News in the UK, Germany, and France

Meta has decided to shut down Facebook News in the UK, Germany, and France in early December. This decision is part of Meta’s effort to understand what people value most. Facebook News was a curated news section introduced back in 2019. Initially, it was introduced in the U.S. and then internationally, showcasing local and international news, transitioning to full algorithmic curation last year. Thoughts to expand the service to Brazil and India did not materialize.

Meta’s Shift Away from News Content

Meta’s plan to discontinue Facebook News matches its wider shift away from emphasizing news content in recent years. Facebook has experienced many problems related to divisive political stories and has been focusing more on the creator economy, as evidenced by renaming its news feed as “feed” last year.

Moreover, there’s a global trend of increased scrutiny and regulation of Big Tech’s role in distributing news. For example, in Australia, new legislation requires online platforms to compensate publishers for their content. This led to negotiations between tech companies and publishers to reach agreements. In this context, Meta’s move away from Facebook News shows ongoing changes in the digital news landscape.

Canada has implemented legislation similar to Australia’s, known as the Online News Act. However, Meta responded by limiting Canadians’ access to news stories, causing criticism and questions about why Meta couldn’t do negotiations with Canadian outlets as it did in Australia. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also criticized Facebook for this action.

Decline in Referral Traffic

All publishers have noticed a downfall in referral traffic from Facebook, aligning with Meta’s goal of reducing its focus on news. Meta has previously confirmed that news makes up less than approximately 3% of the content in users’ feeds, and this remains consistent with the current announcement about Facebook News in Europe. In a statement, the company wrote:

“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.”

Meta is deprecating its Facebook News tab in the UK, Germany, and France. However, it confirms that it’s not blocking access to news articles or publisher pages; it only removes the dedicated News tab. European news publishers can still use their Facebook Pages to share URLs of their stories. Meta has confirmed it doesn’t plan to offer new Facebook products for news publishers. The fate of the Facebook News tab in the U.S. and Australia is uncertain yet.

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