In what may be a precursor to Facebook undertaking a wider rollout of its new, dedicated News tab, The Social Network has this week put out the call for news publishers in Europe to register their Facebook Pages in order to qualify for specific publisher benefits.
As per Facebook:
"Publishers can apply to have their Pages registered. To be included, they must abide by guidelines we developed with news organizations, academics and industry groups. For example, Pages must focus primarily on reporting about current events and information, cite sources, and include dates. Pages that primarily publish ads or promotional content are not eligible, and Pages cannot have a record of publishing articles that have been rated false by our third-party fact-checking partners."
Facebook first started calling on publishers to register their Pages last October, which would enable publishers to access a range of features including:
- The capacity to add additional information about their Page and editorial policies, which will be eligible to appear in the context button in News Feed.
- Exemption from Facebook's policy about social issues, elections and political ads
- Eligibility to have their content appear in Facebook's 'Today In' local news showcase sections
- Access to the platform's 'Breaking News' beta program
In addition, Facebook also notes that publishers will eventually need to be registered to access the WhatsApp business API and Facebook Messenger Subscription beta program, in order to connect with users via automated messaging process.
In part, the process is another element of Facebook's broader efforts to better manage its news coverage, but as noted, it may also be an indicator that Facebook will be looking to expand its dedicated news tab sometime soon.
After months of rumor, Facebook launched the first iteration of its news tab to a subset of US users last October, providing a new way for Facebook to facilitate the flow of accurate, trusted news content.
???? Introducing Facebook News - a dedicated news tab starting to roll out today in the US pic.twitter.com/Mrkx6CGWaq— Facebook (@Facebook) October 25, 2019
The initial launch is still in the experimental phase, but Facebook is keen to take a bigger step towards managing its news content flows ahead of the 2020 US Presidential election. And while we haven't heard anything as to how the test is going, issuing a call for European publishers to register seems to fit in with the theorized timeline for an expanded release.
Facebook's news tab will definitely be met with a level of controversy, including accusations of bias, but if Facebook can better control the spread of news on the platform, by potentially weeding out less reputable sources, that could form another plank in its process to protect the integrity of political process, and halt the flow of harmful misinformation.
It's still a way off, but Facebook does appear to be making its next moves ahead of the next phase.