Facebook has been making significant contributions to social journalism in recent months. They have introduced Instant Articles, Facebook Mentions and Signal, all of which will enhance how news is created and how it is consumed. This extraordinary company has the potential to profoundly change the world, as if they haven’t already. Yet, some news organizations are screaming wolf, suggesting that Facebook has too much power.
What influences will Facebook bestow upon us over the next five years and will this help or hurt our established news organizations?
Facebook as a news organization
With Facebook’s interest in hosting news articles through their own site, rather than driving traffic to the website of the media outlet, rumors have surfaced that Facebook could possibly become its own news outlet. It’s not a huge leap to think of a Facebook News department complete with writers, reporters, photojournalists, producers and editors. They are already deliver and distribute the news, so curating it makes sense.
Perhaps a more fitting scenario of Facebook entering the new curation industry would be for the social network to acquire an established news publisher, like Forbes. This kind of procurement would be aligned with Facebook’s known behavior having purchased companies like Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus.
While this probably isn’t a true focus of Facebook (more like Twitter), Facebook could better serve media outlets and news organizations, if they had first-hand experience with the industry’s biggest challenges.
Wearables and augmented reality
Wearables and virtual reality still seem a bit futuristic. Sure, we have tastes and samplings of both including the Apple watch and Google Glasses. However, Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus suggests that this type of technology could soon be a part of our everyday lives as well as our social experiences.
Mark Zuckerberg confirmed last year that the company was working on a new platform using augmented reality. Augmented reality would augment a user’s vision using a wearable like a contact, so the user isn’t distracted by looking down at a smartphone. Facebook is calling it a head-up experience.
There aren’t many details as to how this technology would be consumed in the daily lives of its users or how news organizations could capitalize upon it. However, with increased use of live streams, one could argue that in the future, we will be able to assemble these live streams to experience any event first hand, as if we were there.
Facebook Messenger allows users to send instant private messages to their friends and Facebook’s WhatsApp is already sending and receiving more messages than traditional SMS. People want to share experiences and moments with their friends the way they do on social media but privately. This technology will continue to develop and new ways to message through photos and videos will emerge.
How will messaging affect the news? With the amount of data Facebook has compiled on its users, it could predict which news stories are of interest to a specific person based on their behavior and location and send those directly using whatever platform comes next for messaging.
For me, it’s not a question of Facebook having too much power. It is a reality that Facebook and other social media networks produce a greater awareness of what is happening in the world around us.