Facebook Expands Instant Articles to Help Users Discover More of the Publisher’s Content

Could compete directly with Snapchat Discover

In a move likely meant to stay on publishers' good side, Facebook is trying out a new way to help users discover more news (real news).

Starting Thursday, Facebook will let nearly a dozen publishers—including BuzzFeed, El Pais, Fox News and The Washington Post—include more than one Instant Article within a single post. The update, detailed today in a blog post, is in some ways similar to Snapchat's Discover feature, which lets designated media companies post directly to the app. 

"More than a year after launching Instant Articles, we continue to explore new features that improve the experience for people and publishers alike," Facebook product manager Josh Roberts wrote in a blog post detailing the news. "Publishers have told us they'd like to experiment with presenting packages of stories to their most engaged readers on Facebook."

Here's how it works: When a user clicks on an Instant Article from a publisher, they will be able to swipe through multiple unrelated stories instead of just one. Then, just like with normal Facebook stories, users can choose to share a post, save it for later, open it in Safari or post it to other channels like Twitter or email.

In a separate announcement today, the company debuted the Facebook Journalism Project. In a blog post detailing the endeavor, Facebook director of product Fidji Simo said the company is working to collaborate with media organizations on news storytelling formats, business models and ways to partner with local news outlets. There will also be online courses for training journalists about how to better inform their audiences and for audiences on how to be a better consumer of news.

Facebook has come under fire in recent months both for its role in widespread proliferation of fake news across the platform and for the decline of publishers' reach with content.

"Facebook is a new kind of platform and we want to do our part to enable people to have meaningful conversations, to be informed and to be connected to each other," Simo wrote. "We know that our community values sharing and discussing ideas and news, and as a part of our service, we care a great deal about making sure that a healthy news ecosystem and journalism can thrive."