Mark Zuckerberg wants to make Facebook the only website you ever visit. The next stage in this plan: pick out the news stories Facebook wants you to read.
Reuters has seen an example of the new so-called Featured Topic as it is currently known as.
Timeline for Facebook
- October 11, 2017
Designed to help people “discover stories that are relevant to them”, according to Facebook, selected news stories will be placed on a Facebook consumer’s News Feed with text, a link to the news story and a photo.
These stories will be chosen based on the interests of the individual user.
Facebook confirmed that the feature is currently being tested to Reuters.
Whilst Facebook, and Google for that matter, have protested that they are not media companies, the preview of this new feature demonstrates the social media company edging closer and closer towards media status.
The average time users spend on Facebook is 35 minutes, five minutes less than YouTube’s 40-minute mark, and it seems like the platform wants to do everything it can to crack this.
Last week, it introduced Facebook Watch, a new video platform that will bring together all the video content on the site into a special tab.
It’s also going to be a chance for Facebook to roll out the much-rumoured original content shows it has reportedly been planning.
Yet, the new Featured Topic seems a bit scarier than just more video content. Facebook has come under fire in the past for facilitating fake news, something it has been trying to rectify, as well as for employing a liberal bias in its Trending Topics selection.
The editorial team behind Trending Topics, which selected the top news stories of the day to appear alongside the News Feed, were all fired for the supposed bias and replaced by algorithms last year, which comes with its own set of issues.
Will the algorithms be running the Featured Topic selections now? If Facebook’s machines are going to be telling us what to read, what to watch, and how to spend our time, where is the line going to be drawn?
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Shall we just succumb to our Facebook overlords now?
Elsewhere in social land, Reddit has announced it is going to be incorporating video content through its new video hosting feature.
One of the problems the platform wants to rectify this is that users will often watch a video on YouTube and then go to Reddit to comment on it, Reddit’s product manager for video, Emon Motamedi, told The Verge.
With the new strategy, you can watch the video on Reddit and comment on it in the same subreddit. So once the new feature rolls out to all subreddits, you will never need to leave the platform.
No wonder all the teens are becoming depressed by spending too much time online.