Facebook paywall could trade fake news for subscription fees

Mandy Carr
July 20, 2017

Last week the News Media Alliance petitioned Congress that Facebook and Google benefit from the work of hundreds of newspapers without fairly compensating publishers.

This is similar to a paywall with initial free access now in place with media organizations, including The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Facebook's current plan is to work with a small number of publishers to introduce a system that would limit free viewing to 10 articles per month, as Digiday recently reported.

The new feature will be built on top of Facebook's existing Instant Articles, a recent product of the company designed for publishers to create "fast, interactive articles" on the social media platform.

Now after much speculation, TheStreet is reporting that Facebook's head of news partnerships Campbell Brown has confirmed that Facebook will begin testing subscription models for users to sign up to, rather than just being able to read an unlimited amount of articles shared either by you or someone else.

If you aren't familiar with the paywall idea, it is based on metered and premium plans.

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So far, the financial details have yet to be determined, and we don't expect to know the prices per article or subscription costs until October when the paywall finally starts. "And that is something we're doing now".

While Facebook is often accused of disrupting the news business, analysts argue that the tech titan has a stake in their success. This will allow publishers to form a paywall, which will direct readers to the publisher's main site and prompt them to get a digital subscription. "We are launching a subscription product", he told the gathering.

As readers have increasingly gone online for their news, newspapers have suffered declining subscriber numbers and lower advertising revenue, resulting in a dramatic industry contraction.

It will now be a matter of waiting to see how Facebook's news platform fares against Google's newly announced Google Feed that aims to compete with the social network in giving people a scroll feed of content, including articles.

How the payments will be handled and if Facebook would take a cut of subscription sales is still unclear.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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