Will Publishers Let Facebook Become the Web’s Biggest News Source?

Is There a Double Standard for News Aggregation?

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[ Social Media]

I have a question for you. Where do you get the majority of your online news? Is it from a feed reader? Is it from Twitter? Is it from Google News? Yahoo News? Do you spend your time simply checking specific news publications? There is talk that Facebook could become the number one place online for people to get their news.

Here’s one for discussion. Facebook users can set up a news list, which will aggregate stories from different news sources who publish their stories to their Facebook pages. All a user has to do is be a fan of that page. Would this be any different than other news aggregators linking to stories? If a news source is willingly putting up a Facebook page with its stories, wouldn’t that be the exact opposite of the argument against aggregators using content? Facebook serves its own ads too. Both the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press have Facebook pages (hopefully they don’t mind me linking to them).

Wall Street Journal Facebook Page

Associated Press Facebook Page

Sure, these publications have control over just what content actually appears on these pages. It’s a bit different than Google or another news aggregator simply crawling the content, but how different is it really? The publications also have the power to block the aggregators. Is there a double standard?

Regardless of that debate, users are increasingly flocking to Facebook to get their news (news is also one of the most popular reasons for using Twitter by the way). The reason Facebook could be the biggest news source is that it has a massive user base – way bigger than Twitter’s, and for all intents and purposes, it operates the same way when it comes to news (albeit, with room for more text in each update).

According to research from competitive intelligence agency Experian Hiwise, 3.52% of upstream visits to News and Media websites came from Facebook last week (that’s compared to 1.39% from Google News.

Hitwise - Facebook News

"Facebook was the #4 source of visits to News and Media sites last week, after Google, Yahoo! and msn. News and Media is the #11 downstream industry after Facebook, receiving 3.69% of the social networking site’s traffic," says Experian Hitwise’s Heather Hopkins. "To offer a comparison, 6% of downstream traffic from Facebook went to Shopping and Classifieds last week and 6% to Business and Finance and 15% went to Entertainment websites (YouTube in particular)."

"Facebook could be a major disruptor to the News and Media category," she adds. "And with the Wall Street Journal already publishing content to Facebook, perhaps the social network can avoid the run-ins that Google has suffered recently with Rupert Murdoch."

Lately Facebook has been encouraging users to set up news lists. They want to be your news source. "You can even create a ‘News’ list to filter news-oriented Pages into one view on your News Feed," noted Facebook’s Malorie Lucich on the company blog. "Simply add relevant Pages to the list, just as you would with a friends list. The next time you sign on to Facebook, you can click the ‘News’ filter to see stories from all of the news outlets of which you’ve become a fan."

News list on Facebook

"In addition to reading news on Facebook, you can share news with your friends on external sites with Facebook Connect," says Lurich. "Outlets like The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, USA Today and countless blogs have become more social by adding Facebook Connect to their websites and iPhone applications. You can sign in with your Facebook login to see what articles your friends are reading and comment on articles with your authentic identity."

Facebook has a huge advantage for being the go-to place for news. Everybody is already there, and they’re spending more and more time there checking their feeds, messing with apps, sharing their own updates, etc. If their news-news (Facebook refers to highlights from friend updates as the "news feed") is right in their feed, they’re going to see articles frequently and get their news there almost inadvertently at times. Plus, if they set up an actual news list like Facebook wants them to, it’s only a click away, and suddenly the average user gets to enjoy the same kind of functionality that users of RSS feed readers have been enjoying for years (they never quite made it to the mainstream did they?).

Do you use Facebook to get news? Can you see it becoming the most widely used platform for online news? 

Related Articles:

> Mark Cuban Takes Murdoch-esque Stance on Google

> News Corp. Blocks Content from News Aggregation Site

> Do You Have the "Right" to Link?

> Murdoch On Blocking Search Engines: "I Think We Will"

> Murdoch’s War with the Aggregators

> Is it Really Crazy to Block Google?

Will Publishers Let Facebook Become the Web’s Biggest News Source?
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  • R. Hiebert

    So far, it sure looks like it. However on the other hand, there’s bound to be another around the corner that will compete and perhaps be bigger. Personally I’m in FB, Twitter, etc. but do not use them for a news source. I go directly to the newspapers, radio or TV that I rely on. These could be anywhere, ie. in North America or overseas.

    • Chris Crum

      True. You never know if something else will come along and dethrone Facebook, the way Facebook did MySpace, but at this point, it’s looking pretty good for Facebook.

  • http://bagfacaden.info danmark bag facaden

    om my friends personal blog, where i also provide news feed headlines for interested users whom wich in im very interested in how, to mirror google, the ultimate and social old shool best m8 robot being around here :-)

  • http://www.rvingplanet.com Jenny

    I currently get my news from Twitter and personally wouldn’t want my Facebook page cluttered with news too. (It is already bad enough that I have to see who scored high in Bejeweled and who got the next prize in Mafia Wars.) I want Facebook to be for personal news and updates. If there was a separate news feed, then maybe I would use it. You’re right too about RSS feeds. I tried a couple, but they never really caught on with me like Twitter has.

    • Chris Crum

      I definitely hear you about the bejeweled/mafia wars updates, although you can always turn those off. I think the idea of creating separate lists for news, friends, etc. is a good way to keep that organized.

  • http://www.urbaninsuranceagency.com Larry Lubell

    As an advertiser and one that produces content.
    Urban Insurance Agency offer policies from several different insurance companies. We are always looking for ways to target our clicks.

    At Facebook we can buy a lot of clicks at a very low rate, but with out being to buy Key words, the click need to be very cheep.
    If a site can get a lot of hits, but take in little revenue, it will not stand the test of time.

    Larry Lubell

  • http://www.thebookabyss.com.au Australian Bookshop

    I wouldn’t want my facebook page filled with ads and other asscoaited junk. That would make it just another my space wouldn’t it.

  • http://upchancemarketing.com Elsie Ukpo

    Thereis no doubt about it. Facebook is the fastest growing website of its kind in the world today. It seems to attract and get more per person page viewers than even google currently. That makes it the web’s biggest news source. I personally find facebook to be more user friendly for it

  • http://analyticasystemsinc.com/blog/ John R. Sedivy

    I think that without a doubt social media is becoming one of the largest news sources. Personally I receive most of my daily news via Facebook and Twitter. Not sure if Facebook will be the largest source, it seems that most of the news I view is through Twitter because it seems to lend itself to being able to pass along information quickly – even faster than Facebook in my opinion. Although there are more users on Facebook, for the most part they are within closed communities; whereas Twitter is open. I guess only time will tell – but it will be interesting to watch and see how it plays out!

  • http://gurlz.ecrater.com Raia

    I spend so much time working online, that I honestly don’t like Facebook. I use it occasioanally when a friend writes, but it’s rare… just too much going on all over the place. Too slow.

    I really like Twitter the best for news, because it’s quick, it’s easy, there are no whirley gigs going off all over the page and you can follow so many different news venues and get — not only news from all over the world — but many different views, so we don’t get caught up in any hatred and division tactics by one particular group or another. Helps to cultivate more independent thought and love for one another :)

  • http://blogsumberduit.blogspot.com West

    I think one of the things people use palng supports FaceBook is the availability of translation and is also available in various languages (following the local language), so to be big like them …. many other networks should be modeled on FaceBook

  • Guest

    I’ll stick with the BBC tyvm

  • http://www.clearsense.se Scoial media Guru

    These little “ads” that pop up in FB is actually almost the same as Google Adwords. It’s a short selling copy text that invites visitors to click and read more at the news site. It’s almost a guarantee that the bigger Search giants will act on this and offer a shared marketing system for FB and similar sites. If these sites don’t cooperates then they have start their own competing social media sites.

    It seems logical though that FB will be a natural place for news for visitors since they come to the site to see what have happened since their last visit.

  • http://www.albuquerquewebmall.com/Movies/ Obdurate

    Too many times the news is coming from undocumented sources. Most of the media hype is trying to determine whether the story is true or not. I find this to be nothing more than a gossip page unless you know who your source for the news is and whether it’s a reliable source.

    I can see Facebook working this angle if you’re following, for example, Sarah Palin from Sarah Palin’s page rather than following what Sarah Palin said from the New York Times or Huffington Post, so it’s just like any other news source – it depends upon the source.

  • http://www.davidsanger.com David Sanger

    The new Facebook redesign has effectively removed this possibility.

    You can no longer set a group of Pages in a filtered newsfeed to appear on the left menu (without multiple clicks to drill down through friend lists)

    By removing the ability to reorder and customize the left menu items FB has severely limited the feature set.

  • http://www.outbackjack.info outbackjack

    Facebook annoys me. It is too slow and too busy. I only use facebook to keep contact with a few people and to advertise the websites I create for outback communities. I

  • Shay

    There are far better ways to get your news. Ever heard of RSS feeds into your email box or just visiting your favourite news website? Why would you use facebook other than to slag off your mates? Theyre trying to make out facebook actually has some significance and worth. Its possibly the worst website I have ever been to and the single biggest waste of human hours.

  • http://www.autoreverseweb.com souleye Cisse

    I’ve been online longer than most and have seen phenomena rise and fall. Remember AOL? used to be a time… I don’t see much point in Facebook, Twitter. Yesterday was Myspace. Remember? I believe the world is too wide to be left unexplored. So is the web. I like to go to my.yahoo, swing by aol.com, then check my gmail. Go check what’s up at Craigslist, then go to cnn to check for news. If I had to stay in one place for all things, I would be bored to death.

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