Facebook began testing a new home for news in its mobile app today called Facebook News. It will roll out to a few hundred thousand users in the United States and host reporting from big publishers, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and BuzzFeed. Facebook is paying some (but not all) participating publishers for their work, offering a welcome new revenue stream for the ever-challenged media industry — at least for as long as it lasts.
“People want and benefit from personalized experiences on Facebook, but we know there is reporting that transcends individual experience,” Facebook said in a blog post. “We want to support both.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to discuss the new tab onstage today with News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson at an event in New York City.
Facebook News will be curated by a team of human editors in a fashion similar to the one Apple takes for its news app. It’s led by a feature called Today’s Stories, which contains the day’s top events. The tab is also personalized based on what you read, the company says, with the tab serving up a better reflection of your interests over time.
You can also personalize the tab by using controls to hide publishers, articles, and subjects you are not interested in seeing.
As you would expect in a general interest news publication, the tab includes dedicated sections for business, entertainment, science and technology, health, and sports. If you subscribe to one or more of the publishers in the tab, you can view those subscriptions in a dedicated section. (Why you would do this, instead of just using the publisher’s app, escapes me.)
Facebook says its team of curators is independent and “free from editorial intervention by anyone at the company.” It also posted its guidelines for story selection, a preemptive move to quell inevitable cries of bias about curators’ picks.