Facebook is to start paying UK news publishers for articles when it launches Facebook News in January, reports the BBC.
Already available in the US, the feature adds a dedicated news tab to the Facebook app. Facebook said it will prioritise original, deeply reported stories and content that is not already on the network. According to the social media giant it has already signed hundreds of UK news outlets including The Mirror, The Guardian, Cosmopolitan, Elle and Esquire.
The Guardian reported that publishers could expect “millions” in the deal.
The decision comes after years of tension between the social network and news publishers, some of which have accused it of cashing in on advertising revenue by sharing content it does not own. Advertising revenues in traditional publishers have plummeted since the advent of social media.
The decline of traditional newspapers, which impacts local and regional journalism of importance to the public, has also been brought up in numerous government meetings with technology executives and has been a focus in some of the antitrust hearings in the US.
Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch was one of the first to publicly call on Facebook to pay media organisations a fee for content in 2018. His publications were not included in the lineup.
However, Facebook News will only be available on the mobile app rather than a web browser. Facebook told the BBC that its earlier launch in the US has shown that new readers who have not interacted with the news organisations in the past made up 95pc of the traffic through the app.
The deals struck between Facebook and publishers are not public, so it is not known how lucrative they could be for struggling news outlets. But previous efforts to bring publishers into the fold have not always been a success.