When users read a news story on the Facebook News Feed it can be difficult to know exactly when the story was published, which is why Facebook has taken yet another step to work hand-in-hand with publishers by experimenting with a “breaking news” tag. Publishers will now be able tag a story as “breaking news” for 15 minutes to six hours.
According to Engadget, the list of publishers that are experimenting with the breaking news tag includes ABC News, The Verge, Recode and Vox Media. Currently, the breaking news tag will not rank the post on a Facebook News Feed. However, a spokesperson for Facebook told Recode that “as part of this test, we’ll be evaluating if breaking news stories should be incorporated into ranking.”
The idea of the tag is to help publishers stand out on a busy News Feed and drive more traffic to their site. Facebook has begun intensifying its relationship with publishers over the last six months to help publishers monetize and publicize their content. But the relationship between Facebook and publishers was not always so cordial.
Earlier this year, publishers believed that Facebook and Google had benefitted so much from their free content circulating their feeds that they formed the New Media Alliance and asked Congress to step in for an antitrust exemption. (For more information, please read this blog post.)
However, Facebook has taken an ‘about face” and has been implementing new initiatives that benefit publishers like a paywall to assist publishers in obtaining additional subscribers, and transparency on how Facebook ranks articles on its News Feed. In addition, Facebook began testing a split News Feed that separated posts from pages and friends. The new “Explore Feed” helps users to discover stories that are not part of their friends and pages feeds. All of these initiatives were a big turnaround in building a trusting relationship with publishers around the world.
Another notable publisher-friendly initiative is Instant Articles, a Facebook hosted platform for fast-loading news articles, which was debuted two years ago to optimize the mobile web for users. Marfeel has served as a key advocate for Instant Articles by helping publishers become Instant Articles compatible.
As Facebook continues to add new features that will benefit the publisher, it will be interesting to continue watching how the industry evolves, as well as how publishers will adapt to technology and how technology will adapt to publishers.