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Facebook to enter the online newspaper market with Flipboard competitor named 'Paper'

Product release rumoured to launch by the end of January would aggregate news stories and 'hearken back to a time before digital devices'

James Vincent
Wednesday 15 January 2014 12:53 GMT
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks to the audience during a media event at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California March 7, 2013.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks to the audience during a media event at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California March 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

The first thing many people do when they wake up is browse their Facebook feed for news from friends and family.

But now the social network is hoping to make this morning ritual a little more old-fashioned with the launch of a news app ‘hearkening back to a time before digital devices’.

This is according to reports from tech site Re/code, who say that the website is planning a new ‘digital newspaper’ named Paper that could launch as early as the end of this month.

Details on the new initiative named ‘Paper’ are scarce (it’s not even clear whether it will function as a standalone app for mobile devices or as an in-browser experience) but it’s thought that the program will be similar to Flipboard – a mobile app that aggregates news stories from other publications and presents them in a format to encourage easy browsing.

Re/code cites an anonymous source “familiar with the matter” and notes that that Paper will bring together articles with status updates from fellow users into a “visually stunning “paper-like” format hearkening back to a time before digital devices.”

Facebook has long nurtured ambitions in this area, and CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg is fond of describing his vision for the site as “the best personalized newspaper in the world”.

For many users Facebook is already their default homepage for the internet and by extending the site’s reach from just social content to news stories and real-time coverage Facebook could further cement their centrality in online habits.

In June last year the company introduced a duplicate of Twitter’s hashtag format in order to encourage public conversations about trending events, and the site’s engineers are constantly tweaking algorithms to promote different sorts of content.

Zuckerberg has said in the past that he wants to promote “high quality content” on Facebook, despite the fact that shareable viral stories from sites like Upworthy and 9Gag are often those that perform best.

Launching a product which includes a bias towards longer articles about serious topics could be one way to remedy this, letting Zuckerberg move one step closer to achieving his goal of delivering not only status updates, but world news as well.

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