Facebook puts news on the back burner as it continues to push video and creators
Facebook is only 18 but it’s slap-bang in the middle of a mid-life crisis, with user numbers declining and TikTok eating its Gen Z lunch. In response, the company is trying to push more video content from creators into users’ feeds, and is now shifting resources away from more text-focused products like its News tab and Bulletin newsletter platform.
As first reported by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook exec Campbell Brown told employees about this change in priorities in a recent memo. Brown said engineering and product teams at Meta-owned Facebook would, in future, spend less time on News and Bulletin to “heighten their focus on building a more robust Creator economy.”
This change in priority was independently confirmed by The Verge, while a spokesperson for Meta told the WSJ that the company is always assessing where to allocate resources, and that its teams “remain committed to the success of creators, and are doing even more to ensure they can find audiences on Facebook and grow engaged communities there.”
Facebook launched News in 2019, paying organizations like The New York Times and Washington Post to aggregate their content. The News tab combined human-curated stories with algorithmic recommendations, while deals with news outlets were worth millions of dollars. It’s been reported that Facebook is not too interested in renewing these contracts, though the company has yet to make any official announcements on the matter.
Facebook Bulletin, meanwhile, launched last year as a rival to newsletter giant Substack, and the company attracted some big names for its launch, like best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell. But the product seems not to have made much of a splash since then, with Facebook instead stressing its slow and “meaningful” development. In a blog post last year, one of the few hard stats the company offered on the size of Bulletin was that “half of the creators on Bulletin have over 1,000 free email subscribers, with many having more than 5,000 or 10,000” — small numbers considering Facebook’s mammoth size.
News of this shift in focus should not come as a surprise, then. In June, The Verge reported on changes Facebook planned to make to its main algorithm; turning users’ feeds into TikTok-lite by centering visual content from creators rather than friends’ updates. In such a video-heavy world, it makes sense that newsletters and news in general would be put on the back burner.