posted at 20:50
Author Name: Rob Lever
Facebook newspaper spells trouble for media
The huge social network has become a key source of news for many users, as part of a dramatic shift in how people get information in the digital age. Company founder Mark Zuckerberg told a forum in early November that his goal is to make Facebook's news feed "The perfect personalized newspaper for every person in the world." Nikki Usher, a George Washington University journalism professor specializing in new media, said Facebook configures its news feed using an algorithm taking into account tens of thousands of factors. "The reason Facebook has so many engineers and data scientists is to continually make the algorithm better. The algorithm gets stronger as more people use it." Facebook is a source of news for at least 30 percent of Americans, and a major driver of traffic to news websites, according to a Pew Research Center study. "What's scary is how reactive a position it puts news organizations, which are trying to guess Facebook's next move," she said. "News organizations are trying to build their strategy around trying to guess the algorithm, and ultimately that's a losing strategy," Usher said. With traditional news media hurting, it remains unclear how the industry can support the kind of journalism needed to keep people informed as it has in the past.

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