NEW YORK: Facebook is starting to emerge as a direct competitor to traditional media sources. As Facebook uses an algorithm that tracks users’ interests, and also keeps tabs on what their friends are following. It then displays relevant news pertaining to the community, events, and world news in the users’ news feed.
According to a study by the Pew Research Centre, Facebook already provides news to 30% of Americans, which brings in high traffic to popular news sites. With more than a billion users, the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, plans to take the whole news experience to the next level by making a user’s news feed “the perfect personalized newspaper for every person in the world.”
The Facebook news function has many proponents, one of whom is Alan Mutter, an ex-editor from the Chicago Daily Newspaper. According to Mutter, “It’s intimate, it’s relevant, it’s extraordinarily timely and it’s about you. That’s more than any newspaper can do.”
A journalism professor at George Washington University, Nikki Usher, also talked about the algorithm used by Facebook saying: “Facebook has all the data to tell you what all of your friends are reading, so you have a better chance of seeing things that you are interested in.”
Despite the new and improved news function at Facebook, newspapers are still hopeful that they will be able to maintain their readership by providing “soul and in-depth research”. Critiques of Facebook News say that the social forum provides content, and not news. They say that the press was there to keep an eye out for people in power and update the community a function that Facebook’s algorithm is incapable of. Also, the investigative journalism that traditional newspapers do is not possible, as Facebook is only useful for sharing content.