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Facebook Announces Paper, Tries To Reinvent News

Facebook's iOS news reader Paper

With a name like Paper, it seems Facebook may be reaching for much more than a way to find stories from posts. Facebook may be shooting for the lofty goal of being a news service, and a starting point for when people read news. Given that most people want to share news on Facebook when they first hear it; Facebook seems to be in a the best position to know what news is hot, and what’s not. And, add a level of curation to the mix, and Facebook could drive eyeballs to news sites, stories and other related media. For a price.

What remains to be seen is if Paper will actually provide any real value, or just show stories that we can already see on our friends timelines anyway. In the video, it appears Paper will over a browser and the ability to flip through web pages [1] with a book style of page turns. For pictures that are too big for the iPhone, Paper will use the accelerometer for panning left and right. Could this be what Facebook will morph into? Could Facebook take us away from the flat Timeline and EdgeRank friend-centered interface into a more curated environment? They certainly aren’t the first to try.

And, to be sure, my feeling is that Facebook’s EdgeRank system has been a total failure. Much has been said about Facebook’s ability to earn cash from a system that seems to be more and more broken. We’ve seen new ways of displaying ads get rolled out, while page owners see less of their posts posted on follower’s walls. I think something is going to give in this scenario. People are going to embrace having to pay for visibility, or they’re going to leave in droves when a viable alternative is presented. This is a matter of when, not if.

Paper will be released for the iOS platform on February 3rd and naturally require a Facebook login. Expect the Paper application to be free.


1. I’m sure the web site is going to have to support Paper’s reading protocol somehow. It’s possible Huffington Post already does.