The cool new thing on Facebook is for Mark Zuckerberg to drop product news in live audio rooms. So today, Zuckerberg took to his brand’s Clubhouse competitor to announce its next new thing: Bulletin, a newsletter platform.
Bulletin is built on a separate platform from Facebook — on its website, the FAQ states that this is to “enable creators to grow their audience in ways that are not exclusively dependent on the Facebook platform.” You don’t need a Facebook account to subscribe to a newsletter, but Bulletin relies on Facebook’s infrastructure, including the use of Facebook Pay to purchase premium subscriptions and join subscriber-only groups and live audio rooms.
Competitors like Substack take a “hands-off” approach to content moderation, allowing anyone to start a newsletter. But every writer currently on Facebook’s Bulletin was hand-picked to contribute. Still, Substack has received scrutiny for subsidizing anti-trans rhetoric through its controversial Substack Pro program, which commissioned particular writers to write on Substack. So, Bulletin won’t be immune to the issues that plague Substack despite its heavily curated model.
The initial slate of writers on Bulletin includes Malcom Gladwell, Mitch Albom, Erin Andrews, and Tan France — the FAQ also notes that its beta program is US-centric, with only two international writers at the moment (“We will look to include more international creators after our beta program launch,” Bulletin says.) Facebook is paying its writers up front for their contributions, and so far, doesn’t plan to take a cut of their profits. If writers choose to move off the platform, they will have the ability to take their subscriber lists with them.