Facebook is the go-to source for college students to check up on the lives of people they know, real friends or otherwise. According to Mark Zuckerberg, however, your news feed soon won’t just be a place to see pictures of someone’s new baby or what Grumpy Cat’s been up to lately—it’ll be a legitimate news source.
”Today’s update … recognizes that people want to see more relevant news and what their friends have to say about it,” wrote Facebook.
According to Digital Trends, Facebook will be introducing a way of getting single images or gifs out of newsfeeds and replacing them with longer posts. In that case, memes aren’t necessarily going away, for better or worse. Rather, they’ll be replaced by long-form posts, such as those on BuzzFeed. Actual news reports will get a boost in appearances as well.
The new update will also add a new feature to sharing and liking articles. Once someone does this, Facebook will suggest a new article to be shared, often from the same publisher. This will further expand the breadth of news and content being shared.
This change comes as Facebook fights to remain relevant within the vast varieties of social media platforms available to users. While they still have by far the largest number of users, the number of users has been declining. In addition, Twitter has since started being used as a way of receiving breaking news, maintaining its relevance for those who use social media, but not for sharing pictures or interacting with friends.
This new update will ideally stimulate more usage of Facebook, as they reported in October that “average referral traffic from Facebook to media sites has increased by over 170% - almost tripled - in the past year.” If everything goes according to plan, more people will log onto Facebook to use it as a viable news source.
Old posts that have new comments will also start to appear on the newsfeed more frequently. If someone has commented on an old post, the entire post will reappear with the new remarks highlighted. As Facebook officials Varun Kacholia and Minwen Ji, wrote in their news release, “Our testing has shown that doing this in moderation for just a small number of stories can lead to more conversations between people and their friends on all types of content.”
For those who complain that Facebook is irrelevant or annoying, this update may come as a breath of fresh air; for those who love their memes, it may come as a disappointment. For any college student, however, Facebook is working on being just as big a way of killing time as ever.Featured photo courtesy of Scott Beale/Flickr.