For a few years, I've asked undergraduates where they get their news. The top response: from social media. (For a while, many said they got their news from Jon Stewart until he departed from The Daily Show faux news desk.)
Now that's changing. Last week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told consumers that the social medium's algorithm would now serve up "friends and family"-generated content ahead of news stories from publishers. The goal, he suggested, is more meaningful interactions -- and, by omission, fewer firestorms erupting from fake news generated by purveyors of pretend news.
Why change? Zuckerberg wants no more to do with a cascade of political propagandists. The angry disputes they generate yield little useful data about Facebook users' psychographics and behaviors, which is what Facebook sells to advertisers.
|Facebook's Campbell Brown, by Fortune |
Live Media, via Wikimedia Commons
Last week, Brown told those news partners that "people are likely to see less content that comes directly from publishers, brands and celebrities in their News Feed." But, she added, "news stories shared between friends will not be impacted." She also said that the "Facebook Journalism Project will evolve to reflect this — collaborative product development work will continue."
What does it mean for how we get our news? One guess: Facebook could create a separate news app, akin to Flipboard or Apple News, that's engineered to aggregate content while collecting more data about our news reading preferences.
The change also means they'll probably re-brand the conventional Facebook "newsfeed" to something more warm and fuzzy.
Is anyone still using "gossip?"