What Are the Goals of Facebook’s News Portal?

2010-02-04 by Richard D. Pace

Facebook News

Facebook has been used as a Social Media portal for quite some time, and that’s largely been the intention of Facebook from a design standpoint. The news feed has evolved over the past few years to become a useful source of information delivery to its 375 million users, despite the need for Facebook to continuously encourage open content-sharing as a result. With a new news publishing option from Facebook, content sharing and delivery could become even more central to Facebook’s plans for its future, while also becoming a more user-driven format for subscribing to various news sources through indirect recommendations from friends.

Relying on users, individuals and brands alike, to push news through Facebook hasn’t been much of an issue for the large social network. Creating a more comprehensive publishing platform around this existing sharing behavior has been the interesting part of Facebook’s own activity, particularly in recent months. Finding ways to tap into that shared data for the purpose of seeking what you need is a matter of trusting one’s social graph. To that end, Facebook has little say so in what we choose as individual users.

Aggregating news content on the new News section Facebook is rolling out seems like the next logical step towards promoting a more user-generated format of content sharing and delivery, though this may not be as revolutionary as some hope. Yes, we click on shared news sometimes because it looks interesting and it’s already been validated by the Facebook friend that first posted it. But this activity hasn’t necessarily deterred other primary forms of news discovery and consumption yet.

Facebook’s News portal competes with Twitter in many ways, as the direct sharing of content within a publicly accessed stream employs similar methods on both platforms. As Facebook and Twitter have been going at each other for a little while now, Facebook is finding new ways in which to take this sharing behavior and contextualize it at a faster rate. The vast amount of content being shared on Twitter still requires a good amount of manual filtering, even if you’ve set up lists to group different kinds of Twitter resources together for organization purposes.

Taking Facebook’s existing layout, privacy settings (even the new ones), and massive user base, and the process of contextualizing all this shared data is a relatively easier task. A matter of connecting the dots, really. This puts Facebook in a better position for becoming a user-generated/recommended news source than Twitter, even as Twitter continues to seek legitimization as a trusted portal.

Yet Facebook’s own process is moving past these basics of news sharing, and into the realm of search engines. Having already struck a deal with Microsoft Bing and a more limiting deal with Google, Facebook may end up being another opportunity for primary news sources to promote themselves through Facebook. A news publishing platform on Facebook, in this sense, becomes a socially-driven gateway for search engines and large news sources to remain in dominate positions.

Everything Public Relations News Insights Author Richard D. Pace