Facebook’s ambition to become a personal “newspaper for its billion-plus users could mean trouble for an already struggling media industry.
Over the years, the huge social network has become a key source of news for many users, as part of a dramatic shift in how people get information in the digital age.
Company founder Mark Zuckerberg told a forum in early November that his goal is to make Facebook’s newsfeed “the perfect personalised newspaper for every person in the world.”
Zuckerberg said that while a newspaper provides the same information to every reader, Facebook can tailor its feed to the interests of the individual, delivering a mix of world news, community events and updates about friends or family.
“It’s a different approach to newspapering,” said Ken Paulson, a former editor of USA Today who is now dean of communications at Middle Tennessee State University.
“It’s neither good nor bad, but it’s something a traditional newspaper can’t do.”
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) will customize its news feed through an algorithm, which takes into account many factors. Moreover, the company has numerous data scientists and engineers at work to perfect the algorithms more and more.
The importance of Facebook in driving traffic to news is evident from the research of Pew Research Center that said that 30% of Americans get news info from the social network site. That makes Facebook a powerful source of news traffic to media industry. All this indicates the vulnerability of media to impact from even the slightest change adopted by the company.
Meanwhile, there are some who strongly believe in the power of traditional print news and say that it would be difficult to overtake it just by an algorithm.