Facebook is working on a newsletter tool for freelancers and independent writers, The New York Times reports

By Azmi Haroun

Facebook is gearing up to be a major player in the newsletter subscription service world, according to The New York Times.

Three sources familiar with the company's move told The Times that the social media company planned to plunge into a burgeoning space currently dominated by platforms like Substack around the summer. 

The Times reported that Facebook's initiative would work symbiotically with the social media platform, allowing writers to grow followings on Facebook and build email lists, with paid subscription tools available to allow journalists to profit.

Facebook's new venture would be attached to the New York-based Facebook Journalism Project, and according to The Times, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is green-lighting the initiative and called for a team of engineers to build the platform.

"We want to do more to support the independent journalists and experts who are building businesses and audiences online," Campbell Brown, vice president for global news partnerships at Facebook told The Times. "We're exploring ways to help them benefit from the news products we've built, like Facebook News and subscriptions, while also building new tools to complement what journalists already find useful."

Substack currently leads the field, with a model that enables freelancers and independent writers to publish either paid or free newsletters to their followers via email, taking a cut from the writer's sales. The Times also reported that this week, Twitter purchased a newsletter software called Revue.

After developing News Tab, which is a vertical within Facebook which shows users news stories from outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, the Times reported that this effort served to expand Facebook's infusion of accurate news amidst misinformation that thrives on the platform.

During the pandemic, Facebook announced a $100 million donation to local news publishers. The Times reported that the new tool for freelancers may launch in the summer, but is yet to be fully confirmed.