Facebook News has launched in the UK - what is it and how does it work?

Tuesday, 26th January 2021, 10:25 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th January 2021, 10:26 am
The logo of US online social media and social networking service, Facebook (Photo: DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images)

Facebook’s new section dedicated to personalised news content has launched in the UK, the first time it has been available outside the US.

From 26 January, Facebook News will allow users to see curated news stories from major national, local and lifestyle media outlets.

The social media giant says it hopes the new feature will “bring people closer to the stories that impact their lives and the community around them.”

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The scheme has seen many publishers sign lucrative deals with Facebook for their content, with The Guardian reporting some such agreements to be worth seven-figures.

The move is seen by many industry analysts as an attempt by Facebook to improve its reputation in an era of potentially dangerous misinformation.

Here is everything you need to know about it.

How does it work?

Stories of the day will be selected by contracted editors working for news aggregator Upday (but overseen by a Facebook curation team), which will appear alongside other articles algorithmically selected according to a user’s interests.

Facebook says users will be able to personalise the stories they see, as well as choose topics and publishers they want to follow or hide those they are not interested in.

During major news cycles, Facebook News will deliver digests highlighting original and authoritative reporting on the biggest stories; for example, it is currently highlighting a collection of Covid-19-specific stories and information about the pandemic.

Facebook hopes that by giving news stories a feed of their own, controversial and hard hitting stories can be separated from the “pets-and-family” content which continues to be the biggest draw to the site for many users.

News articles shared by people and pages will continue to appear in Facebook’s default ‘News’ Feed, just as they did previously.

Which publishers are involved?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2018 (Photo: JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

The project will include input from the likes of Channel 4 News, Daily Mail Group, DC Thomson, Financial Times, Sky News, and Telegraph Media Group.

Their content will appear alongside that from previously announced publishers, which include The Economist, The Guardian, The Independent, STV, local news from Archant, Iliffe, JPI Media, Midlands News Association, and Reach, and lifestyle outlets such as GQ, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Vogue.

The launch comes as news publishers have struggled to generate advertising revenue during the internet age in the face of dominant tech giants, and could earn participating publishers millions in revenue.

But not all publishers who have signed on will be paid up front, with many relying on boosts to referral traffic and ad views brought through their inclusion on Facebook News.

In a blog post announcing the UK launch of the service, Jesper Doub, director of news partnerships in Europe for Facebook, said: “The product is a multi-year investment that puts original journalism in front of new audiences as well as providing publishers with more advertising and subscription opportunities to build sustainable businesses for the future.

“This is the beginning of a series of international investments in news. Our aim is to build on our efforts to sustain great national and local journalism and create more value for publishers.

"We’ll continue to learn, listen and improve Facebook News as it rolls out across the UK and into other markets,” he added.

How can I access Facebook News?

Facebook News is accessible through a tab at the top of your app's display.

To access it, log into the Facebook app on your mobile device, then tap the three horizontal lines symbol.

This will open your menu, where you should be able to find  "News”.

You can also access News by typing "Facebook News" into the search bar on your Facebook app and tapping the Facebook News shortcut.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, The Scotsman