Facebook will remove its News tab, and stop paying publishers for news

Screenshots of Facebook open to the News section on mobile devices, showing a Washington Post article.
Facebook News US launch promo | Image: Facebook

Facebook’s News tab launched in 2019 with millions of dollars in content deals for publishers (a reported $10 million for the Wall Street Journal, $20 million for the New York Times, and $3 million for CNN), but in April it’s going away for good. Meta says it will “deprecate” Facebook News in the US and Australia in April 2024, it won’t enter new commercial deals for news, and it “will not offer new Facebook products specifically for news publishers in the future.”

A support page for Facebook News drops the “deprecate” wording and is much more direct about its earlier European shutdown and what’s next for the US and Australia:

Facebook News, located in the News tab, is no longer available in The United Kingdom, France and Germany. Starting in early April, it will no longer be available in the United States and Australia. Learn more.

When it introduced Facebook News in 2019, the company said, “We hope this work aids in our effort to sustain great journalism and strengthen democracy,” and that a survey “found that we were under-serving many topics people wanted most in their News Feeds, especially around categories like entertainment, health, business and sports.”

Now, Meta has a different message, reiterating a claim that “news makes up less than 3 percent of what people around the world see in their Facebook feed, and is a small part of the Facebook experience for the vast majority of people.” Instead of paying publishers, Meta will “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.”

It went on to invite publishers to keep posting links on their own pages, using products like Reels and ads to drive people to their own websites, away from Facebook.

The end of Facebook’s licensing deals is old news here in the US, where it dropped the deals two years ago, but in Australia, it removes the $70 million per year it was paying to outlets like Sky News Australia, News Corp, Seven, Nine, and The Guardian. Those three-year deals were made after Australia’s government passed the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, and they’re about to run out.

The 2021 power struggle ended after Australia amended its law and included Facebook temporarily applying a news ban that took down pages for government organizations and nonprofits. Facebook and Instagram blocked news in Canada last year over a similar law.