Facebook has launched Instant Articles, enabling media outlets to publish their stories directly to the social network.
Nine big news publishers, including the New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic, have signed on as launch partners. After months of rumors, Facebook began hosting their news articles on its iPhone app on Wednesday.
“As more people get their news on mobile devices, we want to make the experience faster and richer on Facebook,” product manager Michael Reckhow said.
It’s a bit of an uneasy arrangement, with news outlets handing over some control to the Menlo Park, Calif., tech giant. In return, the publishers hope to grow their readership and reach by increasing their presence on the world’s biggest social network.
“We’re participating in Instant Articles to explore ways of growing the number of Times users on Facebook, improving their experience of our journalism and deepening their engagement,” said Mark Thompson, chief executive of the New York Times Co.
Facebook maintains that the platform was designed to keep publishers in charge of their content, brand experience and money-making opportunities.
The company said Instant Articles uses the same technology used to display photos and videos quickly in the Facebook app, so articles load instantly, “as much as 10 times faster than the standard mobile web.”
Instant Articles also includes a suite of interactive features. Readers can zoom in and explore high-resolution photos by tilting their phones, watch auto-play videos as they scroll through stories, explore interactive maps, listen to audio captions, and like and comment on individual parts of an article.
The other launch partners are NBC, the Atlantic, the Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild.
Also this week, Facebook announced that it was boosting benefits for its contractors and vendors in the U.S.
The benefits include a $15 minimum wage, minimum 15 paid days off for holidays, sick time and vacation, and for workers who don’t receive paid parental leave, a $4,000 new child benefit for new parents.
“Taking these steps is the right thing to do for our business and our community,” Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a blog post. “Women, because they comprise about two-thirds of minimum wage workers nationally, are particularly affected by wage adjustments. Research also shows that providing adequate benefits contributes to a happier and ultimately more productive workforce.”