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Facebook Announces Social News Apps – The new Future of News?

September 23, 2011

In just 2 mins and 42 secs, and buried deep inside his presentation at Facebook’s 2011 F8 conference,  Mark Zuckerberg may well have just announced the single most significant shift in the delivery of news content since the printing press.

It’s been well documented that news stories gain momentum via word-of-mouth. Indeed, the influence someone’s circle of friends has on their exposure to news content – and then their buying habits – is one of the most entrenched tools of any PR. Facebook has now taken this a whole bunch of steps further.

As part of the ongoing evolution of Facebook, Zuckerberg introduced a feature “Open Graph” which is designed to help friends better identify things they have in common, like music, movies or any number of other activities. For example, Open Graph will allow Facebook users to see what music their friend is listening to and listen to it at the same time. Some may say that this is something radio has been doing for many years now, but for a social network this is a significant step.

How does this apply to news?

Using a social news app with Open Graph means that Facebook users will be able to see what news articles their friends are looking at first. The users newsfeed will discover patterns via Open Graph on what the most popular news items are based on what their friends are reading via social news apps. Users can also identify single articles or breaking news via the ticker newsfeed on the right. Ticker is a feature not dissimilar to Twitter.

Facebook has partnered with Yahoo news, “by far the largest news site on the web” and they are going to use open graph to make it so people can discover news stories through their friends.

Not only will the newsfeed show the trending stories, it will show users the source of the article their friend is reading. By clicking on the link in the newsfeed, that news article will popup inside Facebook via a “canvas app”.

Back in February 2011, News Corporation unveiled a new publication called The Daily. It was originally designed for the iPad and at the time many pundits put it down as at best a bold experiment, at worst doomed to failure.

Is it possible that News Corporation was actually prophetic? The web app version of The Daily will now be exclusively available inside Facebook because they believe that ultimately, all news will be discovered by sharing it though your friends.

The full speech can be found on TechCrunch and the part about social news apps can be found at 59 min 22 secs.

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