Amid a shifting digital media landscape, Facebook parent company Meta on Tuesday began informing its news partners that it will pull back funding for publishing on the Facebook News Tab. The move comes as Meta begins to deprioritize news as a central feature of its future ambitions.
The Wall Street Journal reported on July 19 that Campbell Brown, Meta’s VP of media partnerships, had told staffers in a memo that Facebook was pivoting from the Facebook News Tab and newsletter platform Bulletin to focus more on “building a more robust Creator economy.”
Facebook had brokered multimillion-dollar deals with outlets in 2019 for the Facebook News Tab. Sources told Axios that Facebook had deals that included $10 million with the Wall Street Journal, $3 million with CNN and over $20 million with the New York Times.
A Meta spokesperson cited a decrease in user interest in going to Facebook for news.
“Most people do not come to Facebook for news, and as a business it doesn’t make sense to over-invest in areas that don’t align with user preferences,” a Facebook spokesperson told Axios.
The move also comes amid a legislative shift in some countries demanding Meta pay publishers for news items. For example, Canada announced in April that it would force Facebook and its rival Google to pay for news content.
Meta’s pullback from news publishing comes as the company continues to steer itself towards the so-called metaverse. This has meant more investment in augmented reality technologies.
At the same time, the move arrives as Meta reported a weaker second-quarter earnings season.
The company reported that its revenues fell almost 1% compared to the same time last year and that its shares had lost about half their value since the start of 2022. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg also predicted a difficult third quarter lay over the horizon, noting the impact a global economic slowdown would have on its digital advertising business.
Zuckerberg, who was already losing interest in paying news publishers as more regulations on paying for content emerged, made clear that Meta would focus on getting “more done with fewer resources” in the near term.