_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

News via Facebook

The Washington Post posted an editor's note today about integration of Facebook with their site. If you're logged into Facebook on your computer, you will automatically see a box on the Post that shows articles your friends have recently shared. And there's now a Facebook "Like" button for every article.

There's some irony in the fact that the Post has dubbed this new feature "Network News." The original television network newscasts for which that term was coined, along with other traditional media like the Post, created a mainstream where media gatekeepers guided the national conversation to a certain set of issues. New media have been dismantling that, serving up specialized channels of information that are only relevant to and consumed by a subset of the population. The Post's "Network News" embraces social media's tendency to take that one step further, and expose you to information based on what other people in your social circle are consuming. This has long-term implications for the flow of information through society and our ability to have collective discussions about topics that affect us all. It's not like this change at the Post's website will have much impact along those lines on its own, but I had previously noted that the social media effect can be a bit unnerving when you can see it happening.

In any case, I'm sure the Post freaked out a number of people, because while opt-out instructions weren't included when I saw the note this afternoon, they have now been appended. It's actually rather counterintuitive to opt out, because it's controlled through your Facebook account -- I imagine that it would be difficult for many people to understand that they need to go to an entirely different website in order to remove a feature that appears on the Post site.

No comments: