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Facebook Launches Substack Rival Bulletin

The social media giant is creating its own newsletter, taking aim at Substack and Twitter's Revue

Facebook launched its independent newsletter Bulletin on Tuesday, as competition heats up against rivals Substack and Twitter-backed Revue. Writers and creators including Malcolm Gladwell, Tan France and Erin Andrews are among its initial recruits.

In an audio livestream, CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced Bulletin as a platform “focused on empowering independent writers, helping them reach new audiences and power their businesses.”

"The goal here across the company is to support eventually millions of people making a living doing creative work,” Zuckerberg said.

Facebook presented Bulletin as a way for writers to monetize their following, and Zuckerberg said they will not take a cut “at launch.” Writers will have full ownership of their work and subscribers and be able to publish free and paid newsletters that can be distributed across inboxes and the Facebook platform.

Facebook said it will continue to recruit other writers to cover topics from sports to medicine. With the debut it also adds high-profile recruits including writer Mitch Albom and journalists Jane Wells and Jessica Yellin.

The initiative is part of the company’s ongoing Facebook Journalism Project, and Facebook has said it will allocate at least $5 million to “support local journalists” that apply and get accepted for its newsletter product. The newsletter lives outside of the Facebook platform.

This isn't Facebook's first foray into cloning successful products on the market by putting its reach and money behind new projects. In January, the tech giant introduced podcasts and live audio streams in the U.S., its answer to Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces. Spotify also has its own service called Greenroom.

For writers and journalists seeking a newsletter home, it may come down to the size and scale of the social network. They may find an advantage to Facebook and Twitter’s reach, while Substack offers a fresh take with convincing growth.

Substack had 12 million readers a month and 500,000 paying subscribers as of April, according to Politico. Twitter reported 199 million daily active users, while Facebook had nearly 1.9 billion daily users. Twitter, which acquired Revue earlier this year, takes a 5% cut in subscription fees, but writers can control whether their work is free or paid. Substack reportedly offers six-figure advances to recruit high-profile writers.

Antoinette Siu previously worked at Facebook contractor Milestone Technologies.