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Facebook turns News Feed into 'personalized newspaper'

Mark Sullivan | March 8, 2013
As expected on Thursday, Facebook announced a major overhaul to its News Feed that will now offer users customizable feeds that present specialized posts.

Millions around the world began their online day by checking out Facebook's News Feed. But what they see there is about to change: On Thursday, Facebook announced a major overhaul to the News Feed feature at a much-hyped press event at the social networking giant's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters.

Instead of offering users just one feed full of many types of content--photos, links, location check-ins, text updates, music listens, videos, and so on--Facebook now will feature multiple customizable feeds that present specialized posts.

"What we're trying to do is give everybody on the world their very own personalized daily newspaper," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at Thursday's event.

And Facebook's new feeds will do that by parsing content on the social-networking service by type, source, and posting time.

Content by type and source

One of the new feeds includes only posts that include photos. Another feed features only content about music--links to songs and videos, tour dates, band recommendations from friends, and so forth. Another feed concerns itself with information about games solely from your gaming buddies.

In addition to the type of content, you can also customize feeds by source. Some of the new feeds are designed to let you see content from only a certain class of Facebook friend. An "all friends" feed presents all feeds from friends, in chronological order. A "close friends" feed gives you only content and recommendations from your inner circle.

A "following" feed will show you only posts from the pages that you follow as a fan. This feed might show news articles about an actor you like or stats from you favorite sports team.

Chronological feeds

If you're more concerned about late breaking news from your friends, you can use a "most recent" feed to give you only the latest feeds, in chronological order.

The regular News Feed that we're all used to will still be available, and likely the first thing users will look at--the front page of the newspaper, if you will. "The front page will probably be the one people look at most, but then they can dig into all these other news feeds," Zuckerberg said.

That main News Feed will continue to use the same complex algorithms used by Facebook to decide what content is featured prominently in the feed and which content shows up further down.

Of course, the name of the game here is time. Facebook wants to improve upon the average 22 minutes that people spend on its site each day. This could have a huge impact on how much advertising content Facebook can put in front of users, which would mean big dollars and big smiles for nervous Facebook investors.

 

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