For better or worse, news outlets around the world are shaping their content to the likes, shares and retweets of social networks more than ever before, shifting power away from editors and giving it to readers.
An article in the New York Times, detailing the impact of Facebook's News Feed algorithm on news websites, highlights the ever-growing power Facebook has over the news we consume. Headlined 'How Facebook Is Changing the Way Its Users Consume Journalism', the article points out how a mere tweak in the algorithm could spell disaster for news websites dependent on traffic and ad revenue.
Facebook's impact on our daily lives is well-documented, but its relationship with publishers and readers is symbiotic. By becoming a source of news in an effort to keep users on the website, Zuckerberg's social network must maintain an algorithm that works - for readers, for publishers, and for itself.
What's more interesting than how Facebook is changing the way we consume our news, is how the reading habits of users on Facebook is influencing journalists and media outlets. The algorithm has replaced the editor, but it is itself influenced by the habits of everyone using it. We've entered the age of democratic journalism only we cast our votes with likes, shares, comments, and clicks.
News lists now rise and fall on the basis of whether content is worth clicking on or sharing - which might be another way of saying: is this story actually interesting? The effect of what is essentially traffic-driven news on the quality of journalism is another debate that is constantly in motion, but what should be clear to all is that producing stories people want to read is no bad thing.
While Facebook holds considerable power of what its we see, we still decide which pages to like and what to click on. Journalists should not be afraid of platforms that bring us closer to what readers really want. Readers hold the power, they just have to exercise it.
10 facts you didn’t know about Facebook
10 facts you didn’t know about Facebook
Around 350 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day, with the site estimating in September last year that users had so far put up more than 250 billion images. That’s 4,000 photos uploaded every second and around 4 per cent of all photos ever taken, according to a study by Nokia.
Facebook’s logo is blue because Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colour blind. “Blue is the richest color for me. I can see all of blue," said Zuckerberg in an interview with the New Yorker. The colour is so popular that Facebook’s campus store even sells nail polish in the exact shade named ‘social butterfly blue’.
Zuckerberg's famously low-key wardrobe (either a grey t-shirt or a hoodie) is so that the CEO saves time deciding what to wear each day. However, Zuckerberg is known to dress up when the occasion demands it. For a 2011 event with Barack Obama he showed up in a suit, with the president introducing himself by saying: “I’m Barack Obama and I’m the guy who got Mark to wear a jacket and tie.”
In July 2006 Zuckerberg turned down a $1 billion offer for the site from Yahoo. He was 22 years old at the time and owned 25 per cent of the company. Zuckerberg reportedly turned it down by saying “I don't know what I could do with the money. I'd just start another social networking site. I kind of like the one I already have.” He definitely made the right choice: Facebook is now valued at $135 billion.
A YouGov poll claimed that three-quarter of UK Facebook users' photos showed someone drinking or inebriated. However, the poll did ask users to estimate the number of boozy snaps themselves, and like all things on Facebook, there might have been an element of exaggeration involved.
Facebook operates a bounty hunter program – for bugs. Like many other big technology companies Facebook offers cash rewards to security researchers who point out flaws in the site’s code. The minimum payout is $500 and the largest prize to date has been $33,500.
More than a third of divorce filings in 2011 referenced Facebook, said a survey from UK-based legal firm Divorce Online. The exact figures may be an estimate, but with just under 8 trillion Facebook messages sent in 2013 it’s certain that a substantial body of evidence is to be found on the social network.
Zuckerberg isn’t much of a Twitter fan. Despite having nearly three hundred thousand followers on the service he’s only tweeted 19 times - once in 2012 and the rest in 2009. Although Facebook dwarfs twitter in terms of active users (1 billion compared with 200 million by some accounts) the micro-blogging site handles breaking news better. Facebook has introduced trending topics and hashtags to counter this.
Following the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 Iceland decided to rewrite their constitution using Facebook to solicit suggestions from citizens. Unfortunately, despite this forward thinking approach, the document was killed by politicians in mid-2013 for various (mostly technical) reasons.
You can browse Facebook upside down. Facebook currently supports more than 70 different languages – including English (Pirate) and English (Upside Down). Check the bottom of the column on the right of your newsfeed and click your current language to change!