Meta terminates Facebook news service in some European countries

Meta plans later this year to stop promoting news content to people in three major European countries, the latest sign that the social media giant wants to abandon the news industry.

News publishers criticised the company after it decided to scrap Facebook’s news tab in Europe and end a scheme to fund local journalism in the UK.

The company is turning off the News tab, a Facebook feature for prominently displaying news material, for users in the UK, Germany and France.

“We know that people don’t come to Facebook for news and political content, they come to connect with people and discover new opportunities and interests,” the company wrote in a blog post.

In recent years, Facebook has moved away from being a news media outlet as it has changed its business to focus on virtual reality and compete with TikTok’s growing popularity.

In the new post, Meta noted that it respects its existing agreements with publishers in the UK, Germany and France until they expire.

After the change was implemented in December, users will still be able to view links to news articles and European news publishers will continue to access Facebook accounts and pages.

However, Facebook will not enter into new business deals for news content, nor will it offer product innovations to news publishers in these countries.

“News makes up less than 3 percent 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.

However, executives at media organizations warned that the decision deprives media groups of a valuable source of income and traffic.

Meta scrapped Instant Articles, the mobile-friendly format that quickly uploads news articles via the Facebook app.

Meta will not separately renew funding for the Community News project, which it announced in 2018 to support journalism in underserved communities, where over the past five years the company has contributed $17 million to the project.

Along with its big tech counterpart Alphabet, the company has come under pressure from lawmakers around the world to share a higher percentage of its advertising revenue with news publishers.

Meta disagreed with publishers over how to compensate, banning news material via its platforms Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada in response to a new law requiring tech companies to pay news providers, and briefly withdrawing news from Facebook in Australia in 2021 after a similar dispute over reimbursement of publishers for content.

 

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