Facebook is getting rid of the News tab in the U.S. and Australia

US News

Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg plans to visit South Korea, scheduling key meetings during the trip, according to a statement by Meta on Wednesday, which did not provide further details. Reportedly, Zuckerberg is anticipated to meet with Samsung Electronics chairman Jay Y. Lee later this month to discuss AI chip supply and other generative AI issues, as per the South Korean newspaper Seoul Economic Daily, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

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Meta said Thursday that it would remove a dedicated section for news articles in April that will affect Facebook users in the United States and Australia.

The social networking giant characterized the decision to shutter the Facebook News tab as “part of an ongoing effort to better align our investments to our products and services people value the most,” according to a corporate blog post.

“As a company, we have to focus our time and resources on things people tell us they want to see more of on the platform, including short form video,” the blog post said. “The number of people using Facebook News in Australia and the U.S. has dropped by over 80% last year.”

Meta’s decision to remove the Facebook News tab comes after the company said in September that it would eliminate the news section for Facebook users in the U.K., France and Germany. It marks another step in Meta’s efforts to distance itself from the news industry following several years of controversies related to how it addresses misinformation and enforces other content-moderation-related policies throughout its family of apps.

Although the social networking company debuted Facebook News in 2019 as a way to “bring people closer to the stories that affect their lives,” it’s been reallocating its resources into short-form video content via its Reels product as it faces competition from the ByteDance-owned TikTok social video app.

Despite Meta shuttering the Facebook News tab in various countries, it said in the blog post that people can still view links to news articles on the core Facebook app and that news publishers will still be able to access their Facebook accounts and Pages, “where they can post links to their stories and direct people to their websites, in the same way any other individual or organization can.”

The update will also not impact any of the existing Facebook News agreements that Meta has with publishers in Australia, France and Germany; the company noted that similar news-related “deals have already expired in the US and the UK,” according to the blog post.

However, Meta said that it “will not enter into new commercial deals for traditional news content in these countries and will not offer new Facebook products specifically for news publishers in the future.”

In 2021, Meta reversed a decision to “restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content” after it reached an agreement with the Australian government over a law that would require tech companies to pay content fees to news outlets.

Meta said that it would “continue to invest in products and services that drive user engagement” and that “News organizations can also still leverage products like Reels and our ads system to reach broader audiences and drive people to their website, where they keep 100% of the revenue derived from outbound links on Facebook.”

Earlier in January, CNBC reported on the detrimental effects to publishers who have seen a massive drop in referral traffic as Meta continues to exit the news distribution business. Last summer, Meta said that Canadian Facebook and Instagram users would no longer be able to access news on Facebook following a disagreement between the company and the Canadian government over its passing of the Online News Act, which requires tech companies like Meta to pay fees to news publishers in the country.

The analytics firm Chartbeat conducted an analysis of 1,930 news and media websites from over 370 companies on behalf of CNBC, which showed that Facebook represented about 33% of these publishers’ overall social traffic as of December 2023. A year ago, Facebook represented about 50% of the media outlets’ social traffic.

A similar study by the analytics company Similarweb also revealed that Facebook referral traffic declined heavily in 2023 for some of the top 100 global news publishers after years of a consistent drop.

Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein said that the nonprofit news publication’s Facebook referrals have declined by 99% since 2017 when publishers were experiencing a massive amount of referrals from the social networking giant. Bauerlein added that while the Facebook page of Mother Jones has amassed more followers than it ever had, users are seeing less of the publication’s news stories that it shares on the app.

“At this point, it seems pretty clear from the comments that executives at Facebook and Meta made that they have just decided that news is more trouble than it’s worth and that they will show people a fairly minimal amount of it,” Bauerlein said at the time.

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