The Huffington Post and Facebook seem to think so…Recently, the former launched a new feature called HuffPost Social News (in collaboration with Facebook) “that connects HuffPost users to their Facebook friends, the news they are reading, and the stories they are commenting on.” This new feature basically tracks what Huffington Post articles you and your Facebook friends are reading and commenting and voting on via Facebook Connect (a conduit between Facebook and another website)…
Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, feels the growth of online social networking has changed our relationship with news…This is what she has to say:
“It’s no longer something we passively take in. We now engage with news, react to news, and share news. News has become an important element of community — something around which we gather, connect, and converse. And we can all become part of the evolution of a story now — expanding it with comments and links to relevant information, adding facts and differing points of view.
HuffPost Social News makes this easier and more dynamic than ever. It takes social news to a whole new level. It will turbo-charge your online conversations and connections, and allow you to build and develop a community that follows what you read and care about.”
Till now, sharing news was a deliberate and private process – one had to remember to share a particlular piece of news through a blog or Twitter or e-mail…With Huff Social News, the entire process will become automated…I have a problem with this…I may not want my friends to know everything I read and I in turn may not want to know what they are reading…There is a ‘stealth’ mode but if you forget to turn it on, your every click will be known by others…Also, the number of links that will automatically be sent to me could become irritating and instead of this feature becoming a conversation starter (as Facebook and Huffington Post are hoping), it could become a conversation killer…Ok, Facebook says it will allow users to ‘control’ what is shared but with thousands of links, who will have time to ‘control’ Facebook news feeds?
Another problem could arise (which could have a huge impact on journalism as we know it today)…Sites like The Huffington Post have thousands of links and if these get totally integrated with Facebook, nobody will go to individual news sites anymore…Instead of The Huffington Post and the likes being the news portals, Facebook will become the one-stop-shop-for-news…Journalism today is already fueled by demographics and if Facebook does become a popular news portal, then the kind of news and editorials that will be churned out by news gatherers will be even more dictated by readers i.e. readers will become not only the consumers of news but also the publishers…If this happens, what happens to news that doesn’t fit the demographics of Facebook users? What if Facebook changes the terms of agreement with it’s content partners?
Despite its faults, I think Huffnews Social News is an interesting experiment…We’ll just have to wait and see what the results are…