Facebook has been attracting criticism from within the news publishing industry in recent times on various counts: fuelling the spread of ‘fake news’ for example, or for the underwhelming performance of its ‘instant articles’ format.

Now the social network appears to be working on a new strategy, as reported by the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

Its report claimed that Facebook is working on a new system of in-app subscriptions for news publications, which could launch by the end of 2017.

“The social-media giant is building a feature that would allow users to subscribe to publishers directly from the mobile app,” is how the Journal put it, while warning that “many details remain up in the air”.

Some journalism experts are remaining cautious about the likely impact though. “It couldn’t hurt, but it’s not going to be a transformational business model for publishers to sell subscriptions through Facebook,” industry analyst Alan Mutter told Poynter.

“Only a small number of people in the English-speaking world are willing to pay to acquire news. A lot more people are willing to buy Netflix and HBO than are willing to pay for a subscription.”

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