Facebook unveils News tab with plans to pay some outlets

Facebook has long resisted paying publishers for their content, but on Friday, the social media behemoth reversed course.

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The company unveiled the “News Tab,” a separate section in Facebook’s main app that’s dedicated entirely to sharing headlines from a slew of news organizations — and will pay them, reportedly millions of dollars in some cases, for the content.

The initial launch will include about 200 news organizations, including Fox News, The Washington Post, The New York Times, News Corp., BuzzFeed News, Business Insider, Bloomberg, NBCUniversal, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.

Tapping on those headlines will take you directly to publisher websites or apps, if you have any installed, a long-time request of publishers.

It’s potentially a big step for a platform that has long struggled with both stamping out misinformation and making nice with struggling purveyors of news. Though media watchers remain skeptical that Facebook is really committed to helping sustain the news industry.

Facebook declined to say who is getting paid and how much, saying only that it will be paying “a range of publishers for access to all of their content.”

During a discussion between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and News Corp.’s Robert Thomson at the Paley Media Center in New York, Zuckerberg said there’s not “any kind of one” metric guiding how Facebook will pay the publishers. (News Corp. is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns FOX Business).

“But in general, we value things like the amount of content that people are producing that is high quality,” he said. “The scale of the number of people who are basically subscribers or readers of that content.”

News executives have long been unhappy about the extent to which digital giants like Facebook make use of their stories — mostly by displaying headlines and short summaries when users post news links. A bipartisan bill introduced in Congress this year would grant an antitrust exemption to news companies, letting them band together to negotiate payments from the big tech platforms.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.