Facebook will host items from The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild on its servers to give readers faster access to the news.
The plan has been hotly debated in the news industry, with some arguing it can help struggling media groups and others warning media organisations will lose control of their content.
The new feature called Instant Articles “makes the reading experience as much as 10 times faster than standard mobile web articles”, Facebook said.
Sharing on the Facebook mobile app is growing but the average article takes about eight seconds to load.
Facebook said publishers may sell ads in the articles and keep the revenue or use Facebook’s ad network. Publishers will also be able to track traffic and other data about their content hosted by the social network.
Instant Articles will initially be available on the Facebook app for iPhone, but Facebook is working to expand the platform.
A recent Pew Research Centre report found that about 30% of Americans get at least some of their news from Facebook.
Those who argue that the new plan gives Facebook too much control of the news include Dan Kennedy, a journalism professor at Northeastern University.
“Overall I don’t think it is a good idea,” he said. Facebook was not transparent about how it showed users news and could make changes that promoted or demoted content.
“When news organisations turn over a key part of their publishing platform to a large corporation with its own agenda there are some real risks,” Kennedy said
The New York Times media critic David Carr, who died in February, said last year that media outlets “would essentially be serfs in a kingdom that Facebook owns”.
John Gruber who writes the Daring Fireball news blog said: “I can see why these news sites are tempted by the offer, but I think they’re going to regret it.”
Danny Sullivan, founding editor at the Search Engine Land blog, said the move opened the door for Google to make a similar news partnership.
“I worry what it means when the free and independent web is mirrored within the walled gardens of two giants, Facebook and Google,” Sullivan said.
Joshua Benton of the Neiman Journalism Lab at Harvard University said publishers risked losing ad revenue to Facebook.
“Premium publishers charge premium advertising rates,” Benton said. “So what happens if brands realise they can reach a Times (or Atlantic or Spiegel) audience more efficiently and more cheaply without dealing with the publisher directly?”
But a journalism professor at City University of New York, Jeff Jarvis, said the Facebook move was a watershed event for news.
“This is good news for news. If news and technology can come to terms [with each other], we can begin to reinvent journalism in a distributed world with new business models.
“We in media can’t do it all by ourselves any more,” he said. “We are no longer monopolies in control of content and distribution from top to bottom. We now live in ecosystems where we must work with others. Get used to it. Find the opportunity in it.”