Facebook wants to become a fully personalized online newspaper

By December 12, 2013
digital newspaper and a cup of coffee on a table

Facebook aims at renewing its news feed to become a personalized online newspaper, which may clash with its users’ expectations.

Reading applications such as Flipboard, which aggregate information from publishers and content from social media are becoming increasingly popular. Social networks are therefore beginning to be interested in this opportunity, wishing to offer a service of online information directly on their platform. This year for example, Linkedin has spent $90 million in the mobile information company, Pulse, fulfilling thereby its ambition to become a platform publishing professional reference. Facebook holds the advantage of having already a large amount of information about its users available and can offer customized products to suit diverse needs. The purpose of Goal Cox (vice president of product) and Mark Zuckerberg (CEO) is to provide a "useful" experience, providing a balanced mix of finely selected content and quality for people worldwide.

Facebook wants to highlight the good quality content

They wish to create a newsfeed that could complement the daily rituals of users, such as reading the newspaper every morning. Facebook teams have thus examined different interfaces with in mind this idealistic form of users’ behavior and a focus on pictures. As part of this initiative, the Facebook newsfeed was redesigned in early March of this year: media format, stories and photographs were enlarged, taking up more space on the screen and making information smaller and more qualitative. The company also bought last year, the facial recognition software Face.com the purpose is to identify Facebook users on the pictures but also to identify the poor quality content. Similarly, in June, Facebook added the use of hashtags, announcing one more tool to search for information. The main advantage of Facebook to provide personalized content to each of its users is the amount of information it holds on their interests. In addition, the social media is able to know and use a lot of data to which it is the only one able to access this information, as it is semi-private.

Users are not yet ready to accept this change in content

However, Facebook users do not seem to be willing to see more serious information in their newsfeeds. Indeed, the most visited and shared topics on Facebook even seem to be the opposite, such as viral content (photos and stories from Buzzfeed or Upworthy example). Thus, the difference between Facebook that leaders want to see and the one that users are currently making of it, is becoming visible. Moreover, Facebook begins to adjust its algorithms to highlight the content it believes readers should see, away down some of the stuff that is currently popular. The solution for now is to find a balance between these two types of content, and then probably start to get consumers to focus more on the "useful" content. Finally, the announcement of Facebook desire to offer a service of personalized online newspaper seems to be strangely pretty well coordinated with the end of Google Reader, the RSS feed agregator of Google.

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