It’s Facebook Vs. Twitter In the Race to Make the News Social

Facebook has disrupted or helped to re-engineer many businesses and markets, including the photo-sharing market and the social-gaming market. But one thing it hasn’t really focused on so far is the news business. Plenty of media companies use Facebook as a news-delivery platform, and many users (including Gawker founder Nick Denton, according to a recent interview) rely on it as a news source. But Facebook itself hasn’t done much to capitalize on that. That could change, however, judging by some comments from chief technology officer Bret Taylor in an interview with the BBC — and it could pit the social network against Twitter in the race to become a social news platform.

While Taylor — the former co-founder of the social network FriendFeed — didn’t provide much in the way of details during his interview, he did say that he sees disruption coming to a number of industries as a result of social platforms like Facebook, much like it has to gaming, and that one of those disrupted industries is likely to be media:

If we had to guess, it’s probably going to be orientated around media or news, because they are so social. When you watch a television show with your friend, it’s such an engaging social activity. We think that there’s a next generation of startups that are developing social versions of these applications, where what Zynga is to gaming, they will be to media and news, and we’re really excited about that.

Taylor’s comments seem to suggest that Facebook isn’t looking to do anything news-related itself, but is hoping that developers will come up with social-news applications that can run on top of the Facebook platform, the same way that Zynga’s games like Farmville or Cityville do. One example might be an app like Flipboard, which takes a person’s Facebook stream and makes it part of a social-news service, and another interesting experiment is an app called PostPost. Facebook is also clearly continuing to push the open-graph plugin strategy that has helped sites like The Huffington Post drive massive amounts of traffic and comments to the site, and offering improved commenting as a plugin for media outlets appears to be a focus as well.

(Please read the rest of this post at GigaOM)

Facebook and the journalistic impulse

I came across a post in my news feeds on Friday, and didn’t think much of it at first. It was a post by a guy who writes about education at a blog called Square Peg, and it was about Facebook. I was in a hurry, so I moved on and figured I would go back to it. When I re-read it on the weekend, I thought it was fascinating — not so much because of what it’s about (a marketing group that hijacked some university Facebook groups) but because of how it has evolved over the past few days.

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Nerd fight: Google vs. Facebook

It’s like a war, except with programmers and social networks instead of soldiers and anti-aircraft artillery. First Google opened up its distributed social net, Google Friend Connect — which I have installed in my sidebar and also embedded below — and then Facebook threw open the doors on its version, imaginatively called (what else) Facebook Connect. The aim of both ventures is the same: to allow you to use your login credentials from the network on various sites around the Web, bringing your social profile with you wherever you go. In the process, both companies no doubt hope to entice more people to build a social network based on their tools and services (for some reason I’m reminded of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church at this point, but that might just be me).

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Irony alert: Facebook Catch-22

It’s a small thing, but it made me laugh out loud when I read it: the government of Ontario (the province I live in, for those of you outside Canada) has been confronted by a grassroots protest against legislation for young drivers. More than 110,000 people have signed up for a Facebook group that was set up in opposition to the proposed law, which would (among other things) restrict drivers who have a G1 or intermediate licence from carrying more than one other passenger under the age of 21. The law emerged at least in part because of a horrible accident in which a car full of twenty-somethings heading home from a party wound up going off the road and killing three of the four passengers.

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FriendFeed real-time: It’s Twitter-tastic

Just in time for the U.S. election, FriendFeed — the “life-streaming” aggregator run by former Google engineers Paul “Gmail” Buchheit and Bret Taylor — has launched a real-time view that looks more than a little bit like Twitter, or like Twitter would if it had an auto-update feature (which it used to at one point, MG Siegler at VentureBeat points out, until the strain on its servers made it turn the feature off). Like some others, I confess I find it a tad vertigo-inducing, like watching the landscape rush past you on a train and trying to focus on individual objects. But for a small room with relatively few participants, I could see it being quite useful. More useful than Twitter? (assuming “useful” is a word you’re prepared to think of in association with Twitter) That’s hard to say. I’ve embedded the presidential debate room below so you can get a taste of what it looks like.

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