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Facebook as a News Source – Will Publishers and Consumers ‘Like’ It?

This post was first published by Hanah Johnson on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.

Facebook Instant Articles

This time last year, Pew shared that 30 percent of U.S. adults get their news from Facebook. That stat startled many people – is the news and information on Facebook really a sufficient news source for Americans?

For better or worse, Facebook is embracing that role, rolling out a new plan this month to host articles from news organizations like NBC News, BuzzFeed and The New York Times. Facebook Instant Articles will bring more “aesthetic” articles to mobile users, including high res images and geo-tags, as well as faster load times (Facebook is promising 10x speed increases for articles published directly to its platform).There will also be new advertising opportunities. Publishers can sell and embed their own ads, or open up ad space to Facebook in exchange for 30 percent of the ad revenues.

There have been many reactions to this news, from the very positive to the very negative.

On one hand, this is what consumers want. A growing number of U.S. adults are going to Facebook for news, so it’s clear they see this is a source not only for communicating with friends and sharing photos, but also for engaging with local and world news.

However, as Jim Young rightly pointed out on the latest episode of Hacks & Flacks, we surround ourselves with like-minded people, and this might exaggerate that tendency. If people are allowed to subscribe only to the news that supports their world views, and thus are not exposed to differing opinions, will society be damaged in some ways?

There have also been many questions raised by editors – namely, what does this mean for their job security? Will there be a day when Facebook is the only online media outlet?

It’s clear that we won’t be able to answer any of these questions for at least another year. Which way do you think this issue will trend – is this a step forward or a step backward for U.S. media?

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