Facebook is going to create a new news section in its video streaming platform Facebook Watch to feature breaking news stories.
The move, which Campbell Brown, the company’s year-old head of news partnerships, announced onstage at the Code Media conference in Huntington Beach, is part of a broader evolution of Facebook’s news strategy.
Facebook launched the Watch platform in August as a way to compete more directly with other video distribution platforms online.
As my colleague Josh Constine wrote when Facebook first launched the product:
Facebook has a new home for original video content produced exclusively for it by partners, who will earn 55 percent of ad break revenue while Facebook keeps 45 percent. The “Watch” tab and several dozen original shows will start rolling out to a small group of U.S. users tomorrow on mobile, desktop and Facebook’s TV apps.
By hosting original programming, Facebook could boost ad revenue and give people a reason to frequently return to the News Feed for content they can’t get anywhere else.
Watch features personalized recommendations of live and recorded shows to watch, plus categories like “Most Talked About,” “What’s Making People Laugh” and “Shows Your Friends Are Watching.” Publishers can also share their shows to the News Feed to help people discover them. A Watchlist feature lets you subscribe to updates on new episodes of your favorite shows. Fans can connect with each other and creators through a new feature that links shows to Groups.
The company had created a video tab as early as 2016, but only hosted generic videos that were being shared by friends and family. With Watch, Facebook was trying to own and control original content that it distributes itself exclusively on its own channel.
Competitors like YouTube and Snap also have their own original content, but with Watch — and the news focus — it’s taking a big step forward.
The social media giant has struggled in recent years to manage the quality of news content that’s being shared on the platform and how news is being consumed by the massive Facebook audience. That said, Campbell continued to recite the Facebook line of self-effacement with the company’s involvement in the media landscape.
“People don’t come to Facebook for news, they come to Facebook for friends and family,” Brown said onstage.
While that may be true, much of what friends and family are sharing — especially in this news cycle — is news.
Facebook is focusing on local news publishers rather than big national outlets to change the conversation and focus on utility of the platform.
“I don’t think our focus on false news and integrity morphed into time well spent,” says Adam Mosseri, VP of news feed. “For those set of issues, stuff that violates community standards or false news, those things need to be confronted head on. You have to assume that you’re dealing with an adversary who’s sophisticated and their strategy will change over time, so the work never ends.”