Facebook to start charging users to read news

The social network is working with publishers to support subscription-based models

Facebook users may soon have to pay to read news on the social network, after the social network announced it would start supporting subscription-based revenue models.

The company is in early talks with several news organisations and publishers about working together to help support paywalled and subscription-based businesses, as well as those that are primarily ad-driven.

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"We are in early talks with several news publishers about how we might better support subscription business models on Facebook," said the company's head of news partnerships, Campbell Brown. "As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, we are taking the time to work closely together with our partners and understand their needs."

The move comes as part of Facebook's increasing collaboration with news organisations, which has involved the company soliciting feedback from publishers on how the Facebook platform is developed with regards to news and sharing.

Facebook has not specified exactly how the proposed changes will take effect, but the company has said subscription support within Facebook's Instant Articles has been flagged as a top priority by its publishing partners.

Instant articles allow news stories to be launched and read within Facebook itself, but currently do not support the tokenised, paywall-based models that many companies have adopted in order to combat falling display advertising revenues and the rising use of adblockers.

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Facebook's role in the consumption of digital journalism has become something of a priority for the company. The social network has been making particular efforts to stem the tide of so-called 'Fake News', after the issue came to prominence in the 2016 presidential election.

"A strong news industry is also critical to building an informed community," founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in an open letter earlier this year. "Giving people a voice is not enough without having people dedicated to uncovering new information and analyzing it.

"There is more we must do to support the news industry to make sure this vital social function is sustainable from growing local news, to developing formats best suited to mobile devices, to improving the range of business models news organizations rely on."

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