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1/15/2014
01:30 PM
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Facebook Mobile News Reader Coming Soon?

Facebook's Paper will compete with the news reader app Flipboard and could launch this month.

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7 Facebook Wishes For 2014
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Facebook is prepping its own mobile news reader service, which will compete with the three-year-old Flipboard, according to a report. The Paper service could launch as early as the end of January.

The technology site Re/code, citing anonymous sources connected to the project, reported that Paper will function as either a standalone mobile app or a web experience for mobile devices. It will aggregate a variety of content from publications like The New York Times and the Washington Post and combine it with status updates from Facebook users. As the name indicates, users can expect its design to mimic that of print publications.

Paper stemmed from a botched redesign of Facebook's News Feed, the report said. Parts of the redesign were deployed to a small number of users in a March refresh, but Paper was spun off into a separate project spearheaded by Chris Cox, Facebook's vice president of product.

[Get a grip on your Facebook account. Read 10 Most Misunderstood Facebook Privacy Facts.]

In a March press conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted Facebook to be "the best personalized newspaper in the world." In December, reports indicated that engagement among users who had the new design was low, and Facebook discontinued the rollout.

The proposed redesign was dramatic. It featured multiple customizable feeds to sort your News Feed content by music, photos, games, groups, and lists. It also featured a feed to browse stories posted by entities you've Liked, such as news outlets, public figures, and sports teams.

The News Feed redesign also showcased a new way to group posts from Friends on the same topic. If you had multiple Friends post or comment on a story, for example, Facebook featured the main post in your feed with thumbnails of your Friends' profile pictures. When those photos were clicked, they showed you what each Friend had to say about it. This could be one way Paper integrates Facebook posts with news.

Facebook has amped up its focus on content. In December, it announced changes to its News Feed algorithm that puts more emphasis on shared articles and deemphasize memes. It also added a box for related stories.

"The goal of News Feed is to show the right content to the right people at the right time whether it's from a close friend or a news source halfway across the world," Varun Kacholia, Facebook engineering manager, and Minwen Ji, a Facebook software engineer, wrote in a blog post explaining the changes. The update "recognizes that people want to see more relevant news and what their friends have to say about it."

Facebook's news reader app seems like a logical next step for the social network. According to a Pew Research study published in October, 30% of US adults get news on Facebook. Among Facebook news consumers who interact with news stories at least sometimes, 43% said they post or share links to news stories, while 60% said they Like or comment on the stories.

Senior editor Kristin Burnham covers social media, social business, and IT leadership and careers for InformationWeek.com. Contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @kmburnham.

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Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/15/2014 | 2:23:09 PM
Would you use it?
Readers: Would you use Facebook's news reader? Why or why not?
Jim Donahue
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Jim Donahue,
User Rank: Strategist
1/15/2014 | 3:31:41 PM
Re: Would you use it?
I don't see the point of combining (real) news updates with status updates from friends.

 

But then, I'm old and I don't get my news from Facebook or Twitter.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
1/15/2014 | 3:47:14 PM
Re: Would you use it?
I wouldn't use it because news doesn't require Facebook.
Sadie!
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Sadie!,
User Rank: Strategist
1/15/2014 | 4:07:59 PM
Re: Would you use it?
My friends post a lot of interesting articles on Facebook, but sometimes don't have time to read immediately.  I'd use the reader if I could save articles in the reader to read later..
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/15/2014 | 9:01:25 PM
Re: Would you use it?
I agree, Sadie. I subscribe to a number of news pages via Facebook and my friends share a lot of good content I'd read later if there was something like a bookmark button.
anon9634868512
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anon9634868512,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/15/2014 | 10:37:37 PM
Re: Would you use it?
I probably wouldn't. I get news with the newsify app. 

At this point, facebook is so many things that I wonder what it really is.
Sadie!
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Sadie!,
User Rank: Strategist
1/16/2014 | 4:48:24 PM
Re: Would you use it?
I thought Facebook was just a platform where people posted interesting things about their lives and interesting news.  (Interesting in their eyes at least not necessarily all their friends.)
What other things is Facebook?
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