Facebook’s Instant Articles are now available to all iOS users, coming to …

20 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A Rant About How Twitter And Facebook Are Burying News Publishers.

LAGUNA BEACH – Facebook launched its Instant Articles initiative today for reading news stories, videos and photos that load quicker on the iPhone platform.Five months after introducing its fast-loading instant articles into the News Feed, Facebook is now rolling out the format to all iPhone users, the company said today.Facebook wants to make reading on your phone fast and easy—or as Facebook puts it, “instant.” Now, many of its users will finally get to experience what that means in practice.To encourage publishers to use Facebook to distribute their content online, the company is offering to allow publishes to “keep all the revenue from certain advertisements,” as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

With Moments and Instant articles, Twitter and Facebook seem happy to take content from publishers without ever sending people back to their sites — you know, the place where publishers earn their money. It was about five months ago when Facebook announced these fast-loading articles which will appear in News Feed and since then the feature has been made available to selected users. But the social networking company hasn’t forgotten about Android users; it said that later this year, Instant Articles will be available for that mobile operating system (it’s already in public beta). Launched to much fanfare, Facebook promised that these Instant Articles posted and shared by popular publishers like The New York Times and BuzzFeed would load “instantly.” Except in the following months, very few users got to see the new format in action.

In its pitch to publishers to join Instant Articles, Facebook tells them they can either keep the ad revenue, or have Facebook sell them for a revenue split. In this video, I break down how news consumption is changing, why that’s a danger to publishers, and what they can do to fix it, all in two minutes. At the time, Facebook product manager Michael Reckhow wrote: “Along with a faster experience, Instant Articles introduces a suite of interactive features that allow publishers to bring their stories to life in new ways.” The concept centered on the fact that if publishers had their content right in the app, it could increase exposure, thereby helping people find what’s going on in the world that much faster. Despite what may be seen as Facebook’s altruism towards publishers and its users, Tech Times warns that the move “isn’t only for users” or publishers for that matter. Starting now, people using their iPhone to access Facebook will notice specific pieces of content with a lightning bolt that denotes the content is an Instant Article.

Publishers’ interest reflects the enormous percentage of traffic that Facebook drives to their properties — and their fears over being left out if the faster-loading stories soon crowd out the regular old URLs that have been their lifeblood for the past several years. The thousands of new articles Facebook says are being uploaded daily by partner publishers will load ten times faster than a standard mobile web article, Facebook says. Billboard, Billy Penn, The Blaze, Bleacher Report, Breitbart, Brit + Co, Business Insider, Bustle, CBS News, CBS Sports, CNET, Complex, Country Living, Cracked, Daily Dot, E! News, Elite Daily, Entertainment Weekly, Gannett, Good Housekeeping, Fox Sports, Harper’s Bazaar, Hollywood Life, Hollywood Reporter, IJ Review, Little Things, Mashable, Mental Floss, mindbodygreen, MLB, MoviePilot, NBA, NY Post, The Onion, Opposing Views, People, Pop Sugar, Rare, Refinery 29, Rolling Stone, Seventeen, TIME, Uproxx, US Magazine, USA Today, Variety, The Verge, The Weather Channel. Additionally, if users remain on Facebook’s website more often with the implementation of Instant Articles, some publishers might lose referral traffic to their own websites.

The latest wave of publishers to sign on with Instant Articles include The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Fox Sports, MLB, Hollywood Reporter, The Onion, The Verge, Time, and others—dozens across all kinds of news and entertainment media in all. Those from National Geographic will allow readers to explore geo-tagged images that open interactive maps so they can get a sense of where the story actually happened. Writers have more options for reaching readers than ever before: ebooks, a blog hosted on another website (like Facebook), their own website or traditional publishing. The more they read, the more they’re likely to share. “The enhanced experience inspires people to share Instant Articles with their friends more often than they do with standard web articles,” Facebook says. It’s a question every writer must ask: “Should I host my own content, get a publisher or put my content on someone else’s website?” There are benefits to all options.

One concern about Instant Articles, however, is exactly that—whether the new initiative will somehow give precedence to stories that load instantly. Similarly, as a major driver of traffic for news media, the worry is that Facebook’s partnerships will anoint certain publishers as winners and, purposefully or not, others as losers. Even if Facebook doesn’t privilege Instant Articles, users sharing Instant Articles more frequently than the non-Instant variety could wind up giving precedence to certain publishers over others.

Unlike Facebook, Google’s initiative to make the web “less slow” is an open-source alternative that seeks to make the web more friendly on phones. Because as much as Google wants to keep the web open (or at least as open as it can be with Google as a filter), Facebook wants Facebook to become your world.

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