Facebook announced on Friday the launch of Facebook News, a new section of the social network that will show users a personalized selection of news stories.
“News 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 company said in its announcement.
The rollout is to begin later Friday, but some users won’t see it immediately, Facebook said.
The move comes as Facebook has struggled to curb the viral sharing of false information on its service. Facebook came under criticism in 2016 after a former employee told Gizmodo that the company routinely suppressed news stories that were of interest to conservative readers in its “trending” news section. Facebook denied the allegations, but it ultimately killed the feature in 2018. More recently, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has faced criticism for Facebook’s policy of allowing political ads with false information to run on the site.
The company has been working on the Facebook News project for months. It could pay millions of dollars to news publications for licensing fees to run their stories on Facebook, according to The Wall Street Journal. For subscription-based publications, users will be able to read stories syndicated on Facebook for free but will have to pay if they click through to other stories, according to a Vox report.
The company is launching the project at a public event in New York on Friday, with News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson sharing the stage with Zuckerberg. Thomson and News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch have called for online giants like Facebook and Google to pay for news content, similar to how cable TV providers pay networks for the right to broadcast their programming.
Facebook News will include local reporting for large cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. At launch, the product will be shown only to a subset of users in the U.S.
Among the publications that will be shown in Facebook News are The Wall Street Journal, owned by News Corp.; The Washington Post, owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos; Gannett’s USA Today; Buzzfeed; and NBCUniversal, which includes CNBC.
The stories included in Facebook News will be chosen by a team of journalists.
“This team is independent, free from editorial intervention by anyone at the company,” Facebook said. “They will select stories based on publicly available guidelines, which you can learn about at facebook.com/news.”