Facebook aims to host full news stories, will let publishers keep ad revenue, says report

Hosting stories on the social network -- and not just links to outside sites -- would cut page-load times for users, encouraging them to stay on Facebook. The benefit for publishers would be more money from ads, says The Wall Street Journal.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The social network is reportedly in talks with sites like The New York Times to host some of their content on the social network. Claudia Cruz/CNET

Facebook wants to publish news articles and other content from sites like The New York Times and National Geographic directly on the social network. And in return, it's offering to let those third-party publishers keep all the revenue from some of the ads associated with their content.

That's the word from The Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources in reporting that the deals -- involving a Facebook feature called Instant Articles -- are still being finalized and that some publishers remain "wary of tethering themselves more tightly" to the social network.

The feature could kick in as early as this month, the Journal reported, though it remains unclear what control publishers -- some of which now draw more than half their traffic from links on Facebook -- would have over the experience.

By placing news and videos from other websites directly on Facebook, the Instant Articles feature would speed up the often frustrating experience of trying to click to an article from a link in the Facebook feed -- particularly on a mobile device, where, the Journal said, the process can take about eight seconds.

The move is aimed at improving the user experience on the world's largest social network. Today, clicking on a news story on Facebook directs you to the news publication's website, adding additional time as that site loads and -- more importantly for Facebook -- taking users away from the social network. With Instant Articles, all the content would load more or less immediately, keeping users engaged on Facebook's site.

The upside for publishers would be increased money from ads, the Journal said. With one of the versions of Instant Articles that's being considered, publishers would keep all the revenue from associated ads that they sold. If Facebook sold the ads, however, the social network would keep 30 percent of the revenue.

Earlier this week, Facebook began testing a new feature that would let users prioritize updates from particular friends. That feature, alongside something like Instant Articles, could prompt people to spend more time lingering on Facebook.

Facebook had no comment on the Journal's report.

Update, 2:15 p.m. PT: This article has been updated several times with more details.