Facebook’s Instant Article: Innovation or Doom?

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When Facebook released the new service Instant Articles, several publications and content-driven entitiessupported the move. The New York Times, BuzzFeed, UK’s The Guardian and Germany’s Bild are the ones expected to roll out with the product.

FacebookThe premise is for users to instantly access articles, rather than opening it in a separate browser. The program, however, is still at its experimental phase. Everyone who signed up for the initial launch are not expected to make a long-term commitment for now. New York Times CEO Mark Thompson said, “We’re going in with our eyes open,” attesting to their optimistic albeit watchful trial with Instant Articles.

Some of the notable features of the products are as listed:

  • Media partners will use their own publishing tools to create Instant Articles; Facebook’s system will then convert stories into the proper format for the Facebook app.
  • Publishers will also be able to add multimedia elements to the stories, including embedded tweets, YouTube videos, photos, image galleries, videos and interactive graphics.
  • Elements of the design were borrowed from Facebook’snews reading app Paper.
  • Publications’ logos and a Facebook Page “follow” button will appear on top of every story. Optionally publishers can include authors and photographers’ Facebook photos in the presentation within the story.
  • comScore will give Instant Article publishers full credit for traffic the stories generate on Facebook’s app.
  • Facebook says it won’t favor Instant Articles in the News Feed algorithm. “But given their novelty, and the fact they’re designed to be eye-catching, it seems very likely that these things will get lots of attention at the start,” Re/code’s Peter Kafka notes.
  • Facebook hopes to roll out Instant Articles to any publisher that shares stories on Facebook.
  • Facebook will allow publishers’ sponsored content — like the posts BuzzFeed creates for advertisers — to be uploaded into the system.
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But, it was not received all good by the media. The Facebook-exclusive product will let users view everything from Facebook, harming the user count for several websites. Some are even touting Google to challenge Facebook in the aspect. Google Currents is an existing Google program that is actually what Facebook is trying to do.

There are doubts in the tech community that websites are irrelevant. When social media takes most of every user’s time, what’s the point of existing outside that plane? Nonetheless, only Facebook and Google are able to do such a seismic move.