Facebook shifts focus away from newsletter service as competition with TikTok heats up

Facebook is deprioritizing its newsletter and information-focused products in favor of services for creators, signaling a major shift by the tech titan to attract the audience that has driven TikTok’s rapid growth.

People’s time spent on TikTok has rocketed up since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and changes to Facebook indicate it is making a new effort to prevent hemorrhaging users’ attention to the China-owned competitor.

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is shifting engineering and product support away from Facebook News and Bulletin, its newsletter service, according to a memo obtained by the Wall Street Journal.

A Meta spokesperson said the company is not killing off the newsletter and information products but is the result of regular evaluations made to ensure “meaningful experiences” for people using its services.

“We remain committed to the success of creators, and are doing even more to ensure they can find audiences on Facebook and grow engaged communities there,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

People’s time spent scrolling on TikTok surpassed time on Facebook and Instagram in 2020, according to market research company Insider Intelligence. TikTok is popular with younger users, and the research company said in May that more than 40% of Gen Z users allocate greater than three hours each day to using the platform.

Meta created Bulletin last year as a new home for written and audio content that appeared to be Facebook’s response to Substack, the subscription newsletter service. Meta recruited prominent people to use the service at its launch last June, including sportscaster Erin Andrews and author Malcolm Gladwell.  

Meta’s Facebook News service started in 2019 and serves as a home for a curated selection of news stories. Meta vice president Campbell Brown touted the human aspect of the curation in an announcement of the service in 2019 and she authored the memo revealed this week saying Meta was moving away from Bulletin and Facebook News.

The new focus for Meta with an eye toward TikTok is just the latest step the American company has made in response to its Chinese competition. Facebook is also making changes to its algorithm that mimics how TikTok recommends posts, according to an internal Meta memo from April obtained by The Verge.

While Meta is repositioning its social media services to handle TikTok’s changes to the social media marketplace, Meta is also pursuing its metaverse business aimed at augmented and virtual reality products. Last year, Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge he intended to transition his business from primarily being a social media company to a metaverse company in the “next five years or so.”





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