Facebook introduces Instant Articles

Anthony Caruana
14 May, 2015
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If you thought Facebook was a massive time-sucker, then its latest service, Instant Articles, will do nothing to change that perception. Its new Instant Articles service moves it from social network to publisher.

“Fundamentally, this is a tool that enables publishers to provide a better experience for their readers on Facebook,” says Facebook chief product officer, Chris Cox. “Instant Articles lets them deliver fast, interactive articles while maintaining control of their content and business models.”

Facebook has always been challenged with respect to earning enough money through advertising. Although there are over 1.4 billion users on the world’s largest social network, almost 90 percent of their activity is via mobile devices. Revenues are up, but the proportion that is profit is sliding.

By engaging directly with publishers, Facebook is able to create a new revenue stream.

Facebook is launching with partners for Instant Articles: The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild.

At one level, this is good news for readers. Content will load faster and be presented in a more attractive way. However, with so many people getting their fix of news and current events from Facebook, there is a risk that you’ll see a limited view of the world, at least initially while the number of publishers is small.

Facebook has ‘enhanced’ (the quality of that ‘enhancement’ is questionable in our view) what appears on your main Facebook feed over time. We hear many individuals complain when they miss something of interest from a friend in their social network when Facebook doesn’t show the item because of the way their feed optimisation algorithm works.

With 20 percent of the world’s population on Facebook, they could have a significant influence in what news appears in the feeds of different people.

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