WHEN YOU HAVE riches on the scale of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, it's sometimes nice to chuck a few million at the less fortunate. Thanks to adblockers, shrinking ad revenue and, uh, Facebook itself, internet publishers now very much view themselves in that beleaguered category, and it looks like they may now benefit from Zuckerberg's largess.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook has been approaching news outlets including ABC News, the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Bloomberg with offers of up to $3m per year for news licencing. The licence would contract content for three years and would sit in a tab of the site set to open this autumn.
You might think this would be licencing the news itself, but apparently not - a correction at the bottom of the page says that this would be purely to licence headlines and previews, with news sites enjoying a traffic boost too.
So what's in it for Facebook? Not a great deal, as far as we can tell. Perhaps it's a nice firewall against the continued PR dumpster fire that comes from the spread of fake news. Maybe it's more effective than its army of fact-checkers. Perhaps, more importantly, it allows the company to rub Google's figurative nose in it, by voluntarily paying publishers for snippets in a way that Google has aggressively resisted.
All the same, publishers are said to be somewhat sceptical, knowing that with Facebook, there's generally no such thing as a free lunch. Lest we forget, this is the same company that made a big splash about sharing revenue with publishers that invested time and money supporting its Instant Articles format, only to gradually deprioritise them on the platform, first below video and then below posts from friends and family.
You can understand why publishers may be a bit wary, in other words. On the other hand, $3m is $3m. µ
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