Facebook to Offer Self-Publishing Tools for Content Creators

Facebook Inc. FB 2.02% is rolling out new self-publishing tools it says will help writers and other cultural producers reach audiences and get paid for their work, the latest example of a social-media company pushing to keep creators in its fold.

Facebook said Tuesday it plans to offer a free, customizable publishing tool that allows users to develop websites and email newsletters as well as charge for subscriptions. Among other features, creators will be able to monitor how their content is resonating with readers and build audiences through Facebook Groups, the company said.

Social-media companies have been targeting so-called influencers, who can attract users to their platforms and keep them engaged.

Last month, Twitter Inc. said it plans to begin offering a subscription option for content producers and look into allowing creators to receive payments in the form of tips from fans. Twitter has also agreed to purchase newsletter-creation company Revue Holding BV.

Facebook’s Instagram division, Snap Inc.’s Snapchat and ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok have all said they plan to pay creators for video content.

Other technology companies are also taking aim at journalists, professors and experts who are looking to develop stand-alone businesses, including Substack Inc., a firm that allows creators to brand their own newsletters and pitch subscriptions, and Patreon Inc., which allows users to pay the people behind podcasts, journalism and other content.

Axios reported earlier that Facebook would soon start working with a group of writers for the publishing effort.

“As writers, experts and journalists publish more of their work independently, we’re working to better support those efforts and make it easier for those content creators to build businesses online,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president for global news partnerships, and Anthea Watson Strong, a product manager focused on news, said in a blog post.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company wasn’t ready to discuss if it would take a cut of newsletter subscriptions that producers generate. That approach is used by some other companies focused on creative producers. Substack, for example, charges a 10% fee for paid subscriptions, according to its website.

Facebook doesn’t charge a fee for subscriptions tied to its Instant Articles initiative and has dropped its cut for another fan-subscription effort until at least August, the spokeswoman said.

In the company’s blog post about its planned self-publishing tools, Ms. Brown and Ms. Strong said a large part of the effort is aimed at independent journalists in local communities. “We’ll work to include them at launch,” they said.

Facebook has faced criticism from some news publishers over the company’s role in distributing news and its powerful position in the digital-advertising market. The company has sought to help local publishers gain subscribers and donated funds to help bolster the industry.

Last month, Facebook said it would spend at least $1 billion to license material from news publishers over the next three years.

News Corp, the parent of The Wall Street Journal, has a commercial agreement to supply news through Facebook.

Write to Micah Maidenberg at micah.maidenberg@wsj.com

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Appeared in the March 17, 2021, print edition as ‘Facebook To Offer Publishing Tools.’

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