Facebook News Feed revamp: Why news will matter more on the social network

Facebook News Feed could soon don a new look, one where actual news gets its own special hub with little sections.

Written by Shruti Dhapola | Updated: April 18, 2016 9:53 am
Facebook News Feed, News Feed, News Feed change, News section, Facebook, Facebook News Feed redesign, Facebook new features, News on Facebook, technology, technology news Facebook is revamping its News Feed to show a special section for news and here’s why this is a big change. Source: Reuters

Your Facebook News Feed could soon get a new look, one where actual news gets its own special hub with little sections. The social media giant has confirmed that it is testing a revamped version of its News Feed where news based on topics like Sports, US and World, etc gets reflected.

Facebook in a reply to Mashable confirms testing the new design. The reply from a spokesperson reads. “People have told us they’d like options to see more stories on Facebook around specific topics they’re interested in…So we have been testing a few feeds for people to view more and different stories from people and Pages based on topic areas.”

Currently, if you read an article via Facebook, you’ll also see a bunch of suggestions or similar links on that topic appear on the News Feed. But what Facebook is testing and based on the images put out on Twitter, the new ‘News Section,’ appears at the bottom of the screen. Users can access links and topics by swiping left or right.

That Facebook might add a news hub is not really surprising, given how the social media site has evolved over the years. For those who joined Facebook in its early days, I’d say anyone before 2008, it was a space to share your personal thoughts. The ‘Wall’ as it was called then, was accessible only to your friends, and it gave one that sense of privacy on the web.

Facebook for a lot of people then was about creating a certain idea of themselves on social media. The clown, the intellectual, the angry ranter, the party-goer.

But over the years that idea has pared down spectacularly for some us. Just go and check your ‘On this Day’ memory page and it’s likely that some you have no idea what some of those status updates are about. I know I certainly can’t figure out why I was posting a lot of the status updates that I did back then. That doesn’t mean we’ve stopped sharing on Facebook.

Today it is the biggest social network on earth, and it doesn’t look like anyone else is going to challenge its supremacy, at least for sometime. Sure its own Messenger and WhatsApp have close to a billion users each, but they offer a different kind of networking, one where we chat only with our friends, trading pictures and planning parties in private.

But the decline in personal sharing, has seen a boom in links, news articles being shared. There is no doubt that for many users today Facebook is the way to consume news as well, which explains the reasons behind testing a dedicated section. Facebook’s Trending section is already divided into different categories such as Politics, Science and Technology, Sports and Entertainment. A design change will make these more prominent in appearance.

 

Facebook, Facebook News Feed, News Feed, News Feed change, News section, Facebook News Feed redesign, Facebook new features, News on Facebook, technology, technology news What the redesigned News Feed might look like. Image source: Tom Critchlow from Twitter @tomcritchlow

Facebook itself has been pushing content aggressively. The company’s Instant Articles feature has seen it tie-up with publishers to ensure that these links open up super fast for readers, and that the content is more engaging and vibrant. Even publishers have started seeing the platform as a source of revenue and traffic.

Plus there’s the newly launched Facebook’s Live video, now available for all users. For news websites this is a new way of reaching out and engaging with their audience, who do spend a lot of time on the social network. If you like more than one news page on Facebook, chances are you’ve seen them all do a Live Video recently, be it around the new recent US election or the launch of the iPhone SE. And that itself shows how the approach to Facebook has changed.

Plus all publishers know that a story that goes viral via Facebook needs to make an appearance on their platform again, to be shared later on the social media site for more traffic gains.

Sure the comments wars are still happening on Facebook, but news is growing on the site, in a big way. The question is when and how soon will Facebook roll out a dedicated space for it on the site.

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