For years, some publishers have been outspoken about the fact that Facebook has made ad revenue on their articles without compensating the outlets.

Now Facebook ($FB) is extending an olive branch and allowing some top media companies, including the Washington Post, New York Times, and News Corp, to share in the profits.

"It's no secret that the internet has disrupted the news business model," said CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a fireside chat with News Corp CEO Robert Thomson on Friday in New York. "Every internet platform has the responsibility to try and help fund and form partnerships to support news."

Facebook News is a dedicated tab on the Facebook app that will host original stories, subscriptions, and other personalized content. Users will be able to see stories across business, entertainment, science and technology, and sports, hand-picked by an independent team of journalists Facebook has hired. It will also feature local news from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Houston, Washington DC, Miami, Atlanta, and Boston markets, with more to come. Users will have controls to hide articles, topics, and publications they do not want to see stories from.

More than 200,000 people will be able to test out the feature as of Friday. It will be rolled out to other users in the upcoming months.

The initiative will pay certain outlets to license their content, although as well as follow any existing paywall restrictions. It will also allow users to import their subscriptions. The agreements range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars each year, sources told The Washington Post.

"I've believed for a long time it's very clear the work you all do in the news industry is very important for democracy," Zuckerberg said. "I believe in giving people a voice."

Many tech companies including Apple have recently dabbled in the news aggregation space. But Facebook has been trying to figure out the news space for several years now and has already faced intense scrutiny over bias and dissemination of fake news.

The company has put policies in place for the News tab in an effort to combat these issues. Facebook News publishers need to be in the company's News Page Index, abide by Facebook's Publisher Guide, and not have many community standards violations for complaints like hate speech and spreading clickbait.

Increasing the bar has affected Facebook's share prices, including a $119.1 billion market cap drop after it's July 2018 earnings report raised concerns about user growth, tied to increased privacy and security measures that led to the removal of tens of thousands of viral videos that violated the news policies. It remains the largest one-day loss of market value for any company.

But publications like the controversial far-right outlet Breitbart — which has called itself "the platform for the alt-right" - have passed muster with Facebook's rules. When questioned about allowing Breitbart on Facebook News, Zuckerberg declined to comment on specific publications but said he supported a variety of mindsets.

"Part of having this be transparent is that sources have to be from a diversity of views and different perspectives, but doing it so that it complies with the standards we set," Zuckerberg said. "Curators and the journalists are choosing the most relevant thing to surface, but I certainly want to include a breadth of content."

Earlier this week, Zuckerberg was in DC, ostensibly appearing before Congress to answers questions about Facebook's proposed digital currency, Libra, but the hearing expanded to numerous topics including issues of fact-checking and data privacy. Facebook also settled a lawsuit this month brought by advertisers over allegations it had provided incorrect viewer metrics on video content.

More In Business
Load More