A week after publishers asked Congress for an anti-trust exemption to negotiate collectively with large platforms, specifically Facebook and Alphabet's Google, Brown, the head of the company's news partnerships, said Facebook will launch a subscription-based news product with initial tests beginning in October.
The feature appears to be built on top of Facebook's Instant Articles, which aggregates stories from hundreds of publishers based on a reader's interests and preferences. In addition to steering readers to a publisher's home page to consider taking out a digital subscription, Facebook plans to erect a paywall which would require readers to become subscribers of the platform after they'd accessed 10 articles, Brown said.
"One of the things we heard in our initial meetings from many newspapers and digital publishers is that 'we want a subscription product -- we want to be able to see a paywall in Facebook,'" Brown said at the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, an industry conference, in New York City on July 18. "And that is something we're doing now. We are launching a subscription product."
The paywall idea is based on premium and metered plans and has been in the works for a while, Brown said. It's aimed at appeasing news organizations which had complained that they had little control over how their stories were being exhibited on Facebook. The News Media Alliance, which petitioned Congress, charges that Facebook and Google benefit from the work of hundreds of newspapers without fairly compensating publishers.