Facebook is developing a news service that is similar to Flipboard according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The project has been under development for around a year now and Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the social media giant, is closely involved in the development process.
Flipboard is an app that aggregates content for you from a variety of sources including your social media accounts but also from other information providers and websites. It then organises the stories that have been aggregated into a magazine like page that you can flick through to change the content. You can click on an article or post to view the article in full. Visually Flipboard is a very appealing app and I have no complaints about the functionality.
I can see why Facebook would want to incorporate such a service into its own offering. There are already millions of people who check Facebook as soon as they wake up to see what’s going on in their world. I tend to find Twitter to be a better source of information on “the real world” as opposed to “your own world”. Facebook would, no doubt, like to be your first source for all kinds of news and that is exactly what Flipboard already is.
It is thought that you will be able to choose where you aggregate content from. Here in the UK some potential sources could be BBC News, Hello magazine and your local newspaper. When you open Facebook as well as seeing posts from your friends and the pages you have liked you would also see links to articles from the news sources that you have selected, giving you a tailor made feed of information that you are interested in.
From the content suppliers perspective it gives them the opportunity to advertise themselves on the world’s largest social network and as you will undoubtedly be able to Like content that you see then there is the opportunity for the content provider to be able to spread their message to a wider audience. One of the things that we usually have in common with our friends are our interests. So if I see that one of my friends has liked an article I may well go and read it as well even though I am not connected with the content provider.
Facebook will also be able to collect data on the things that we like. If they follow the Flipboard model then you choose your sources by category such as entertainment, technology, news, sport etc. From the types of content that you choose Facebook will immediately know the kind of adverts that are most likely to appeal to you. I know that some people are freaked out by the privacy concerns that we are oversharing too much information and I can see why those concerns exist but from my own personal perspective I am not really bothered who knows that I like technology, the internet and Blackburn Rovers. It makes more sense to me to have an advert presented to me that is related to Blackburn Rovers than one relating to Burnley FC. I am more likely to click on the Blackburn ad and that is a valuable piece of information for Blackburn, Burnley and Facebook.
This project has been under development for quite a long time and the eventual aim is that the service will be available on both desktop and mobile though it is not clear if it will be the default version of Facebook for all users or not. If, or when, it is made public I am sure that it will prove massively popular. For Facebook it will be yet another way for them to keep users within the Facebook ecosystem for longer and the longer we stay in a social media platforms ecosystem the more ads we will see and the more ads we will click on.