Meta kills Facebook News in the US and Australia

So much for the 'commitment to support news organizations' made in just 2020

Meta has killed its Facebook news service in the United States and Australia.

A late Thursday post revealed the move, which The Social Network™ justified on grounds that it had already snuffed the tab it dedicated to news in the UK, France and Germany, audiences for the service dropped 80 percent last year, and "news makes up less than three percent of what people around the world see in their Facebook feed, and is a small part of the Facebook experience for the vast majority of people."

Meta wants to instead "focus our time and resources on things people tell us they want to see more of on the platform, including short form video."

The end of Facebook News also means the end of Facebook's deals with news publishers. And, seemingly, also Meta's stance that those deals – which saw it pay publishers whose content it shared on the News tab – were a worthy effort.

"Facebook is committed to supporting news organizations as they adapt to the changing digital world," the org's director of news partnerships Jesper Doub declared in November 2020 when launching Facebook News UK.

"We will continue to work with publishers in countries where market conditions and regulatory environments invite this kind of investment and innovation," Facebook said at the time.

Errr … no, you won't. Because as of early April Facebook News will be gone. Everywhere.

The decision to kill Facebook News is especially important in Australia, where the service formed part of the social network's response to the News Media Bargaining Code – a scheme that requires designated tech companies to pay local publishers for the right to use links to their work. That includes links posted by users.

Meta and Google agreed to make those payments without being formally designated.

Zuck's shop has now said it will stop doing deals with publishers , leaving Australia's government the option to designate Facebook as an entity required to cough up.

Australia's relevant ministers have reportedly flagged their intention to ensure Meta sticks to past promises to support the local media. The Register's antipodean outpost clearly needs to stock up on popcorn.

Another group that may express anger about this change is Meta shareholders, who just three years ago were told Facebook News was an important and worthy product that would improve the service.

Fast forward to today, and Meta seems more concerned with making sure it can combat TikTok's attention-grabbing videos, having miscalculated the impact of Facebook News. ®

Bootnote: The Register is not the sort of outlet covered by either Meta's payment scheme, or Australia's Code. We therefore report this story without being impacted by Zuck's decisions.

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