Discussing News on Facebook

By | 05/07/2016

Discussing News on Facebook is not as interesting as it is on Google Plus. On Facebook publishers and friends tend to share and promote clickbait rather than articles that they have actively looked for and read. Google+ in contrast is a place where people surf the web reading news stories and when they find a good one, link to and share it. For this reason I go to Google+ for news and current affairs if I go to a news aggregator rather than Facebook.

The technical change this time around is that Facebook will favor links shared by your friends and family over links that publishers place directly into the News Feed through their pages. source

The language used is interesting, “favor links shared by your friends and family”, there is no mention of original content, there is no mention of photographs. The focus is on news curation rather than personal content. The unique selling point of facebook is not that we share links but that we are a community of friends and family. If we share news and current affairs then there are dozens of alternatives.

It has two priorities, Mosseri says: to inform and to entertain. Source

When I look at a news feed and when I read headlines I want to be informed and educated. Entertainment is not key for my news consumption habit. I do not want to be told how to feel or how it will change my life. After years of Facebook use I see the social network as superficial. It failed to encourage the right user behaviour.

In many cases, their feeds have been overrun by posts from pages and publishers they follow, some of which post as often as 200 times a day. They may click on and like those posts, but ultimately they don’t want posts from their friends crowded out by all that professionally produced content. Source

That I am blogging about these articles rather than simply sharing them to Facebook shows that the sense of community that helped Facebook grow and thrive over the years has been undone by years of prioritising the wrong content. That decline started with farmville a few years ago and culminated a few weeks ago with me reverting to this blog.

I took a break from writing this post to look at how many personal posts I could see and the answer is very few. Facebook has already damaged the personal relationship that people have with it. People now use it passively, liking and sharing links rather than conversing.

Facebook is no longer the conversational social network that it once was. People have lost the habit of conversing with their friends and Facebook is doing what it can to re-engage an audience that has already found other distractions. With a hot story like BREXIT you can be certain that I wanted to discuss it. Google+ has been an interesting place for these conversations.


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