FB Newswire – A Bridge too far for Facebook?
Last week Facebook sought to bridge another gap between Twitter’s offering and its own with the announcement of FB Newswire.
There’s going to be no prizes for innovation here, it’s a straightforward news curation service hosted on Facebook, however, it raises interesting questions about Facebook’s future.
The background: Despite Facebook’s position as the world’s largest social network, Twitter is firmly placed as the most up to date, go-to source of breaking news, renowned for its instantaneous nature – Probably one of the most distinguishing features about Twitter.
So how does Facebook go about chipping away at this differentiator and work to incorporate one of Twitter’s biggest strengths into its own arsenal?
The answer? I’m not sure they can, successfully, but first, the background; What FB Newswire is, is a tool for news organizations to discover breaking news stories in real-time. It is powered by Storyful and shares authenticated stories, photos and videos on to the FB Newswire page. These are sourced from publically shared content on Facebook, including posts from people on the ground.
And herein, I think lies the problem.
Firstly, can it match the rate at which stories are developing? Looking at the page as I write, I see it being updated sporadically throughout the day, sometimes twice an hour, sometimes once every other hour. Most of the today’s stories provide updates on the Tornado through the south of the USA and the latest on Donald Sterling. The problem is is that as opposed to Twitter, Facebook are curating the stories themselves which means that stories aren’t breaking organically – A big reason why Twitter is so successful at keeping up to date. So essentially, the FB Newswire is showing us headlines of what they think is the most important news.
Secondly, how will they ensure a vast range of news from around the world. Again, looking at the page, it is heavily weighted with US news, although there is a mention of some European news with Stephen’s Story and the Vatican, however, there is obviously a large proportion they’re missing out on. Off the top of my head, they’re missing the conclusion of the Max Clifford case and the 720 people sentenced to death in Egypt. A national and an international story with big interest in their regions.
Thirdly, taking the previous two points into account, how can they guarantee that their content will be seen? With the latest algorithm change, we’ve seen news articles being given more prominence, but unless they integrate it with Facebook’s trending feature, the only place for it is on our already cluttered news feeds; a mix of personal posts, posts from pages and adverts. The beauty of Twitter is that it is designed to be a quick feed of constant news and posts which we filter accordingly. Facebook just isn’t that.
There’s no doubt this is something Facebook have to do, but the execution feels rushed and not very well thought out. No doubt, it’ll be interesting to see how Facebook take feedback into account to make it more useful to the media, but in the meantime, it feels like a placeholder, or a statement of intent, until they can find a way to execute a news service properly.