Facebook on Thursday announced it’s testing a news subscription tool designed to help publishers make some coin off their content.
Over the next few weeks, Android users who are browsing news on the Facebook app may encounter a paywall prompting them to subscribe for full access to a publisher’s content, Facebook Head of News Partnerships Campbell Brown, Head of News Product Alex Hardiman, and Product Manager Sameera Salari wrote in a blog post.
The test will initially roll out on Android devices, but the trio said Facebook is hoping to expand it in the near future. Recode on Thursday reported that Apple wanted its usual 30 percent cut of subscription revenue generated through the tool, but Facebook didn’t agree to those terms since it wants the publishers to keep all the money. Thus, the feature is not launching on iOS—at least not right now.
Facebook said it’s testing this with a “small group of publishers” in the US and Europe, including The Boston Globe, The Economist, The Houston Chronicle, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Telegraph, The Baltimore Sun, The Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and The Washington Post. You might encounter a paywall if you’ve already read 10 of a publisher’s articles in a month, though publishers will also be able to put specific articles behind a paywall.
If you decide to subscribe, you’ll be sent to the publisher’s website to complete the transaction.
“The publisher will process the payment directly and keep 100 percent of the revenue,” Brown, Hardiman, and Salari wrote. Subscription prices will vary as Facebook is letting publishers decide how much to charge.
Subscribers will get full access to the publisher’s sites and apps. If you encounter a paywall but already have a subscription with that publisher, you’ll be able to enter your credentials to get full access to their articles within Facebook.
The new Facebook tool comes after Google recently ended its controversial “First Click Free” policy, which required publishers to provide a minimum of three free articles per day via Google Search and Google News before putting stories behind a paywall. Google is now just recommending publishers offer users 10 articles per month for free, which many already do.