Facebook: this novelty that arrives in France

Facebook has been facing numerous accusations of misinformation for some time now. But here is a novelty that should make it possible to ease certain tensions. Tuesday, February 15, the social network founded by Mark Zuckerberg launches, in France, its news feed Facebook News. This is reserved for journalistic content, a guarantee of increased visibility for the media. Initially, this service will begin to be rolled out to a small number of French Facebook users.

After this launch, its generalization will be gradual and Facebook News should be available to all users in France by May, according to Meta, the American group that owns the social network. France becomes the fifth country where Facebook News is launched, after the United States at the end of 2019, the United Kingdom in January 2021, Germany in May and then Australia in August. “Alongside Facebook’s classic news feed (where content shared by the user’s friends and contacts appears, editor’s note), Facebook News is the place where we only provide information from verified sources”, because produced by real media, explained Jesper Doub, director of news media partnerships for Europe at Meta.

The launch of Facebook News in France was made possible by the signing of a framework agreement with the Alliance for General Information Press (Apig), announced by Facebook in October. This agreement plans to remunerate French daily press publishers for two years for the use of their content. Under this agreement, many national or regional daily newspapers are included in Facebook News, including Le Parisien/Aujourd’hui en France, Le Figaro, Le Journal du Dimanche, Les Echos, the newspapers of the Ebra group (Le Progrès, L Alsace, etc.) Nice-Matin or La Voix du Nord.

A new tab in the Facebook app

At the same time, Meta has entered into agreements with other media which are also included in Facebook News at its launch, including BFMTV/RMC, Capital, Femme Actuelle, L’Equipe, L’Express, Libération or Voilà. “Persistent discussions and other partners will necessarily join the list,” said Mathieu Fritsch, head of Meta’s partnerships with news media in France and Southern Europe.

Concretely, Facebook News will be accessible via a new tab in the Facebook application. By clicking on this tab, the user will access an information feed which will present journalistic content in the form of thumbnails, with the title of the article, an image and the name of the media. No content can be read on the Facebook page itself: these thumbnails will contain links to the media site. It will therefore not be possible to read a paid article for free. Facebook News will consist of two sections. One, common to all users, presents most of the day’s news, “like the 8 p.m. television news”, according to Jesper Doub. The other will be personalized according to the user’s interests.

A certain “diversity” in access to information

For the user, Facebook News will be both a guarantee of “quality” and “diversity” in access to information, according to Mathieu Fritsch. For the media, this will be “a wonderful opportunity to expand their audience” by reaching different audiences, or even to win new subscribers, it will appear. Facebook account 40 million monthly users in France. The launch of Facebook News comes as the social network is regularly accused of being a channel for spreading false information via content from dubious sources. “We are convinced that journalism is essential for the good health of our democracies”, assured Jesper Doub.

The content appearing in the section common to all users will be selected by journalists employed by an AFP subsidiary, Media Services. This choice is “a recognition of the experience and quality of work of our subsidiary specializing in editorial content on demand”, commented the CEO of AFP, Fabrice Fries, quoted in a press release from Meta. Meta pays more than 80 media worldwide, including AFP, under a content verification program. But the contract signed as part of Facebook News is separate from this agreement.

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