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Facebook’s News tab comes to UK in first launch outside of the US

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With payments for some publishers to include their content

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Facebook’s News tab will go live in the UK on January 26th in its first launch outside the US. The company says the section will offer a mix of curated and personalized news stories, but for select publishers the bigger news is that it will see Facebook paying them to license their content.

Although Facebook declined to give information on the amount it expects to pay publishers, a spokesperson said the company plans to invest “substantial” amounts over a number of years. These payments are expected to mainly go to publishers whose content isn’t already on Facebook — for instance, like content that’s normally paywalled. The Guardian previously reported that some publishers expect these payments to be worth millions of pounds a year.

Alongside the news of the section’s launch, Facebook is announcing a number of new publishing partners whose stories it’ll include. These include the Financial Times, Sky News, Channel 4 News, Telegraph Media Group, DC Thomson, and the Daily Mail group. These join existing publishers announced by Facebook in December, including The Guardian, The Economist, The Independent, Wired, Vogue, and local news sites from publishers like Reach.

The tab features a mix of curated and personalized stories.
Image: Facebook
There are also controls to allow you to hide articles or publications from your feed.
Image: Facebook

Facebook News will include a combination of curated stories chosen by “a team of journalists” and articles that are shown based on what users read, share, and follow, similar to how the section works in the US. The company promises that it’ll provide controls to let you hide topics or publishers from your feed if you don’t want to see them. New digests will also be produced to cover major news stories (such as stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic), which Facebook says will highlight “original and authoritative reporting.”

While Facebook News offers a dedicated section in the app for browsing news stories, the company emphasizes that users will still be able to share articles from their profiles and pages, and will be able to read them via the News Feed.

As well as launching in the UK on Tuesday, Facebook says it’s currently in “active negotiations” with partners to launch the feature in France and Germany. In August last year, following the launch of the News tab in the US, the company listed Brazil and India as two additional countries to which it was considering bringing the section.