Facebook is letting 10 media outlets charge readers subscriptions to view stories

Pablo Tucker
October 20, 2017

The move, that is part of Facebook's Journalism Project, is initially set to roll out on Android devices, and Facebook has said that there will be updates for the same soon.

Facebook is testing the subscription sales system with a number of publisher partners, including Hearst, Tronc, The Economist, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Telegraph in the United Kingdom, as well as other big European newspapers and magazines, such as Bild, Spiegel and Le Parisien.

If you decide to subscribe, you'll be sent to the publisher's website to complete the transaction. The new subscription model will allow publishers in the USA and Europe to start putting some of its news content behind a paywall. "We also heard from publishers that maintaining control over pricing, offers, subscriber relationships, and 100% of the revenue are critical to their businesses, and this test is created to do that".

These subscriptions will include full access to the publisher's site and apps as well.

It may also help soothe relations with some publishers, which often see their articles widely shared among Facebook's more than 2 billion monthly users but have found it hard to translate Facebook readers into paying subscribers.

Subscription prices will vary as Facebook is letting publishers decide how much to charge.

Facebook had previously been attacked for deliberately driving traffic to select websites on Instant Articles and using its own algorithms to manipulate the feed. For users who already have a subscription from one of the publishers mentioned earlier, they will simply have to authenticate their subscription within Instant Articles in the Facebook app to gain full access to news stories. "We're listening to news publishers all over the world to better understand their needs and goals". The test will also only be available on Android devices, which makes sense since it is the more prolific model. According to Recode, Apple declined to be part of this test because it wants its usual cut (as much as 30 percent) of revenue generated through subscriptions. This means that some articles might require subscription fee payments to read.

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