Facebook started as a way to rate the attractiveness of female Harvard students. It eventually morphed into a way to post vacation photos, alienate friends and family with political views, shop for furniture, and even find love. Not content to merely worm its way into every other part of our lives, it looks like Facebook’s also getting in the newsletter business very soon.
That’s the word from Recode, anyway. Facebook is reportedly gearing up to launch Bulletin, a service that would let writers circulate newsletters to anyone who wants to subscribe, with both free and paid options, though the details around how that would work are unclear right now. We first heard about this back in January, but its supposedly imminent launch is newsworthy.
For those who haven’t paid attention to the past year of media discourse, Bulletin is a pretty obvious response to Substack. That particular service has generated a substantial amount of attention lately due to prominent media figures like Glenn Greenwald and Matt Yglesias leaving their jobs (at The Intercept and Vox, respectively) to start Substack newsletters that they have full editorial control over and can monetize for themselves.
Bulletin would theoretically do the same, though Recode noted that the details about how its writers will make money are murky at the moment. Facebook is apparently offering writers two-year contracts to write about entertainment, sports, fashion, and local news (but not politics), but how or if they’ll get additional income through subscriptions isn’t set in stone yet. For context, Substack takes 10 percent of any given writer’s subscription revenue.
This is just the latest example of Facebook, which has famously stated it’s not a media company over the years, wanting to be a media company. If it works, it could give some writers a boost to both their incomes and their level of exposure. If not, it’ll just be another in a long line of failed Facebook experiments.