Facebook’s next product frontier is reportedly newsletters
Facebook is gearing up to snatch a piece of the newsletter pie.
The social media company is reportedly developing a set of newsletter tools “for journalists and writers,” according to a story from the New York Times. It’s early days for the project, according to the three people who spoke with the paper, but it apparently has CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s blessing.
The move would mark Facebook’s latest step into territory that’s already been popularized by other businesses. Substack is perhaps the best-known example to most in these early days of 2021, though Twitter’s recent acquisition of Revue is also a notable development in the same space.
There are no details at this point on features or timetable for Facebook’s tools. The NYT report suggests “features to help writers build their followers on Facebook and curate their email lists…as well as paid subscription tools” factor into the plans.
The effort would be an aspect of the Facebook Journalism Project. It’s a segment of the company that, in Facebook’s words, “works with publishers around the world to strengthen the connection between journalists and the communities they serve. It also helps address the news industry’s core business challenges.”
Facebook-hosted newsletters could create a new source of content for the website’s News tab, which already features stories from the company’s various publishing partners in the media. The newsletter push is meant to strengthen Facebook’s relationships with individual writers in the same way that other efforts, such as the News tab, did with larger content creators.
There’s no word on when Facebook might be launching this new initiative, but the NYT report notes that executives are hoping it’ll be ready by the summer.
Of course, there’s every reason to think this particular project faces an uphill battle. We’re not even a month removed from the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol, an incident that was enabled in many ways by social media platforms like Facebook. The company has also had plenty of struggles over the years with privacy and content moderation issues.
So the idea that a wide cross-section of independent writers might voluntarily walk into a veritable lion’s den that already elevates some of the most toxic and disingenuous voices in modern media is… a stretch. Until Facebook can come to terms with its own role in elevating and empowering bad faith voices, a newsletter service for all might be a tough sell.
Published at Sat, 30 Jan 2021 20:44:24 +0000