Facebook is taking heed to news publishers' outcry after they have requested the US Congress about a week ago for a fair competition and negotiate huge platforms like Facebook and Google.
At the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit on 18 July in New York City, Facebook's head of news partnerships Campbell Brown said the social media giant is planning to introduce a subscription-based news product, and the first beta test is slated to become available in October.
Based on Brown's initial descriptions, this pay-for-news product will be developed on top of Instant Articles, a mobile publishing format on Facebook designed to give news publishers the ability to distribute their content through the app, which loads up to 10 times faster than any digital news publication's web page. The subscription-based news will work almost similarly, only that a paywall will be set up after a reader accessed the maximum limit of 10 articles.
Facebook's move has been hyped to rekindle the integrity of conventional news sites, which was lost amid the thriving proliferation of fake news and "alternative facts". Currently, The Wall Street Journal is one of the few esteemed news publications having set up a paywall for a full access to their stories. The New York Times, on the hand, offers 10 free articles before hooking readers into a subscription. Meanwhile, The Financial Times and Business Insider both offer some special and in-depth contents for a fee.
Amid the potential revival of credible news to reign and the financial contribution to field journalists brought by Facebook's pay-for-news product, critics throw a shade of doubt at the agenda of the internet firm's chief, Mark Zuckerberg.
Anurag Harsh, senior vice president of digital publishing company Ziff Davis, said Facebook's step "could be more about clawing back business." In a Huffington Post article, he stated that this age is "dominated by authentic live reporting from users on the ground on sites," citing Twitter.
"Many people might find the notion of paying for news a rather outdated concept," notes Harsh. "Should a site throw up a paywall for news access, one wonders how difficult it might be for users to find the same news on another website that does not require payment."
In the meantime, Facebook is also progressing with its ads tests on the Messenger app, which some critics also find off-putting.