Facebook to introduce subscription paywall on iOS from next month


iPhone users may soon have to pay if they want to read news on Facebook, a new report has revealed.

The social media giant wants to bring paid subscriptions to iOS users, that will allow publishers to protect their content by using a paywall.

The feature is already available on Android but is now set to be brought to iPhone and iPad after Facebook reached an agreement with Apple, Recode reported.

While there are few details regarding the terms of the agreement, it is understood that paid subscriptions will be rolled out from March 1st this year.

The subscription feature works by directing users of Facebook’s Instant Articles to a special publisher subscription page, within Facebook’s Instant Articles, whenever a user hits the limit on the amount of stories they can read for free each month.

Apple currently charges a 30 percent fee on any subscriptions sold on iOS. However, Facebook doesn’t charge publishers anything, meaning they can keep 100% of the fee from subscriptions generated through the social network.

To compensate for the cut, some publishers simply hike up prices to customers subscribing via iOS, while some just avoid offering subscriptions on iOS altogether.

But now publishers have asked Facebook to lower the amount of articles users can read via its Instant Articles platform to five.

Facebook has also said that it will direct users straight to the subscription page on the publisher’s website.

The news comes after a new study has revealed that many publishers are turning their back on Instant Articles.

Launched in 2015, Instant Articles lets publishers easily distribute news articles to Facebook users via a mobile device.

The plus for publishers is that Facebook lets them keep 100% of the ad revenue sold through the platform.

The other major benefit for both users and publishers are that news articles load 10 times faster on Instant Articles.

The plus for Facebook is that users read news without leaving the Facebook app.

However, earlier this month Columbia Journalism Review reported that over half the publishers who originally signed up to Instant Articles have now left the program.

In 2015, there were 75 publishers signed up to Instant articles but in January 2018, only 38 were still posting content to the platform.

Some high profile news outlets such as the New York Times and the Guardian announced last year that they would no longer be posting content to Instant Articles, with both citing difficulty in monetising content on the platform.

Additionally, after Facebook announced earlier this year that it would be prioritising content from friends and family in a user’s newsfeed, there appears even less incentive for publishers to use Instant Articles.


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