Facebook News Feature Remains A Question Mark To News Publishers Even After Six Months Of Its Release

Facebook revealed its plan to introduce a new News tab last year, and it is still not available to all the United States Facebook users. Publishers are used to seeing the company releasing a new feature with much fanfare and then have a momentum fizzle. Publishers are starting to experience a similar feeling.

Facebook News is available to all users in the US in the bookmark section of the Facebook app since Apr 2020. A company’s spokesman stated that ‘millions’ of users are using the Facebook News tab currently. Yet, he did not provide a specific number. According to sources at seven various publishers within the news tab, Facebook is still messing with the new feature, so there is not much to get enthusiastic about.

While the company has started to take steps to promote the feature, most users using editorial collections of news stories around significant events derived from news digests (News participants) that Facebook will not be releasing ads aimed to promote the News feature until later in this year.

A source at one of the News participants stated that the company was evident that the process was going to be slow, and Facebook had a lot to experiment with Facebook News. He also said that Facebook Watch also took a long time to become popular among the users.

Still, some News participants have begun to worry that Facebook is not prioritizing the News as it should. When Facebook released the Coronavirus Information Center and placed it at the top of the news feed, some publishers saw that a different feature is solving the kind of problem the News feature should have addressed.

For a lot of Facebook users, Facebook News lives in the bookmark section along with Facebook Dating and Facebook Marketplace, where only a few users engage with the News. Facebook automatically migrates the feature into the user’s tabs if they regularly engage with Facebook News.

Some News participants are taking steps to establish direct relations with newsreaders such as Thrillist, and the NY Daily News are seen experimenting with a ‘follow’ button. The follow button will let the users reach more of the content from these publishers.


Parsley data shows that Facebook referrals experienced a 44% month-over-month increase from Fab to March of this year, and there was an overall 80% YoY growth during Apr 2020. The traffic generated by Facebook referrals has played a significant role in surging news publisher’s content consumption during the last two months.

News publishers cannot draw any conclusions as they do not have the necessary data, and state that it is challenging for them to provide a firm opinion on how Facebook News is faring. Publishers are not able to differentiate Facebook News referrals from other referrals coming from various Facebook’s parts like news feed.

According to a source at a second News participant, what’s the point when you don’t know how many individuals are using the product, and there are a lot of crucial elements for publishers to worry about.


Photo: Wsj.

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