About three years after first launching a curated news section for publishers, Meta has confirmed that it is giving up on humans and fully relying on Facebook news algorithms in all markets where it is available.
Known simply as Facebook at the time, Meta launched Facebook News back in 2019, initially targeting a small subset of users in the US before eventually expanding nationally and into international markets, starting with the UK, Germany, Australia, and France.
Facebook News is essentially a dedicated tab within Facebook that displays notable local and international news relevant to each market. Although most of the articles that surfaced were already algorithmically determined, there was a human-curated “Top Stories” section.
Algorithms will soon determine this section as well.
According to a report in UK trade publication Press Gazette, Meta is today ending a deal with Axel Springer company Upday, which has provided the freelance staff driving news curation in the UK market, albeit with strong direction from those in power who be at meta. Incidentally, this came shortly after a negative Press Gazette report detailing some of the working conditions the freelancers were struggling with.
“We always evaluate our global curation partnerships based on user and product needs,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement.
The changes will come into force in the UK in early 2023. However, the meta spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that it will indeed end human-curated stories in all markets where Facebook News operates.
As noted by Press Gazette, Upday originally curated the German news tab, but due to conflicts of interest stemming from parent company Axel Springer’s association with the news industry, Meta gave the curation deal to a local press agency called Deutsche Presse. Agency (DPA) earlier this year. But according to this latest news from Meta, the DPA’s role in curating the top stories on Facebook News appears to be limited to the duration of her remaining contract.
While news sharing has been a cornerstone of the Facebook platform almost since its inception, it’s clear that the company has taken steps to deprioritize this aspect of the social network in favor of the so-called creator economy. Part of that was also renaming the trusty old Newsfeed to “Feed”.
But that shift may have been fueled by a broader industry pushback that has led to new laws in countries like Australia that now require online platforms like Facebook to compensate publishers for their content. Similar mandates are also working towards realization in other markets, including the US
While Meta appears to be reducing its investment in news — at least from a human perspective — there’s no indication that Facebook News itself will go down the dodo route any time soon. But that’s a possible outcome here, as the company claims that creator-driven content is what its users are most interested in — on both Facebook and Instagram.
The meta spokesman said there is little point in investing in areas that most of its users aren’t interested in.