News tab is the latest installment to Facebook’s platform, joining the likes of Marketplace and Pages. Its purpose is to provide a differentiated space filled with curated publications and headlines that users can benefit from, rather than continuously scrolling down the app for their daily fix of what’s trending. Prior to this new development, News was only available in the USA, and it would draw upon over 200 different publishers in order to amass information from a wide variety of topics. Finally, in order to truly provide a custom experience, users can choose to remove headlines they find irrelevant and uninteresting, thus allowing them to further personalize news that reaches them.
It’s newly introduced feature in the UK was preceded by an announcement in November of 2020 on Facebook’s About webpage where, other than announcing the overseas launch in 2021, the social network stated that it will be acquiring more UK-based publishers to work with. Some of these new names under News’ belt include The Economist, Guardian Media Group, Archant, Conde Nast, Midland News Association, and in total mark over a hundred separate news outlets. Facebook’s clearly looking to properly represent local UK news, as opposed to just swinging into uncharted waters touting it’s own local brand of publications that others may not trust. And such a decision is exceptionally well-timed, considering current events.
The general public’s outlook towards the USA and its information outlets isn’t exactly as stable as can be. With the Capitol riot being both preceded and succeeded by waves worth of misinformation and the propagation of public agendas, such mistrust can be very well excused. Facebook’s own hand in the planning of the attempted insurgency by providing an unwitting platform for Trump supporters has also been harshly criticized worldwide. That and it’s attempts at siphoning information from users via WhatsApp’s infamous revoked policy changes have left the company in internationally murky water.
With all of that in consideration, this author can’t help but think that Facebook’s pushing of its News feature outside of the USA, combined with actively taking on foreign publications might just be an incredibly elaborate method of saving face. Now all that’s left to see is how well this will go across with the userbase.