In a strategic move, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has announced its plan to remove the dedicated news section for users in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany starting in December. The decision comes as part of Meta’s ongoing efforts to realign its investments with the products and services that users value the most.
Focus On Short-Form Videos
The Facebook News tab, introduced in 2019 with the goal of bringing users closer to the stories impacting their lives, will be “deprecated” in these European countries. Instead, Meta aims to channel more resources into short-form video content, exemplified by its Reels product, which bears resemblance to the popular TikTok platform. Currently, news content represents less than 3% of the content that users see in their Facebook feeds, according to Meta.
The company clarified that it will fulfill its existing obligations to news publishers in the affected countries but will not engage in new agreements nor develop new products specifically for news publishers.
Shifting Away from the News Industry
Meta’s decision to phase out Facebook News is part of a broader shift away from the news industry. Recently, the company blocked access to news on Facebook and Instagram in Canada after the Canadian government enacted the Online News Act, which mandates tech companies to pay content fees to media outlets. Meta expressed its disagreement with the law, asserting that it misrepresents the value news outlets gain from using its platforms and is based on an incorrect assumption that Meta disproportionately benefits from news content shared on its platforms.
This move by Meta has not been without controversy. Critics argue that blocking users from viewing or sharing news links in Canada could potentially lead to an increase in misinformation and have adverse effects on local news organizations.
Role of Social Media
While Meta’s decision to remove the dedicated news section in the UK, France, and Germany signifies a shift in its strategic priorities, it also raises questions about the role of social media platforms in disseminating news and the implications for publishers and consumers alike. The company’s focus on short-form video content suggests a shift towards entertainment and user-generated content, which has been a growing trend in the digital landscape.
As the December deadline approaches, Facebook users in these European countries will need to adapt to the changing landscape of the platform, with a reduced emphasis on news content and a greater focus on other forms of engaging content.