Facebook started experimenting with hard paywalls and premium Instant Articles on Android devices, with its move coming just under three months after the company initially introduced subscriptions to its publishing platform. The social media giant is presently testing two options which are only live in select territories, one that's akin to Google's old model which allows publishers to provide each user with ten free stories on a monthly basis before presenting them with a paywall asking them to subscribe to the service. The alternative is a hard paywall that publishers can put in front of any and as many stories as they want. It's currently unclear whether the former solution insists on exactly ten free monthly stories or if publishers can opt to additionally limit that sample size, though the platform itself may undergo some additional changes in the coming months before becoming available on a global level.
The new business model is planned for a wider release in the next few weeks during which it will gradually roll out to more users as Facebook keeps inspecting feedback and possibly tweak it along the way. The company's latest service is presently only being distributed to select Android users due to the fact that Apple's iOS guidelines mandate a 30 percent commission on any sold in-app subscription. The obstacle to fulfilling this requirement is that Facebook itself isn't taking a cut of any subscriptions and instead redirects users to publishers' own websites to pay for access to their content. It's currently unclear how Facebook is planning to resolve this situation and make the service available on iPhones and iPads but Android users shouldn't be worried about any of that and can expect to soon have the option to subscribe to media outlets they want to support directly within the Facebook mobile app.
Facebook has been discussing the possibility of revamping Instant Articles for a while now as it faced pressure from publishers who were dissatisfied with the fact that they're simultaneously losing advertising revenue to the Menlo Park, California-based company and are also providing its users with entirely free content. It remains to be seen whether this is the end of Facebook's immediate efforts to please major media outlets or if the social media platform debuts more similar initiatives in the near future.