Feeds

Breaking news: Man lands on Moon!

How Facebook shares skew the news with old tat

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Facebook's frictionless sharing apps are dredging up decade-old news stories and putting them at the top of national news sites.

A story about an overworked Oxford student's suicide currently tops the most shared and most viewed lists on the Independent's website despite dating from 1997. “Sean, 12, is the youngest father” (January 1998), and “Scotland’s ugliest woman honoured” (May 1999) are another two that highlight the trend.

They are the latest in several decade-old stories that have shot to the top of the Indy's popularity boxes since the newspaper introduced its Facebook app, which posts a link to all your Facebook friends every time you click on a story.

The net effect is that as everyone piles in from the social network, following links friends have picked, the 'most viewed' lists are skewed towards the most shared: the crowd, effectively, becomes the news editor, no matter how out of date the stories are. The same is happening on the Guardian too, though apparently the paper takes steps to make the shared lists less visible.

It's most likely that the old stories were discovered by chance or a Google search and then spread friend-by-friend on Facebook. The impact of Facebook's so-called frictionless sharing on user privacy has been widely discussed, but these early signs show that "frictionless sharing" - introduced in September this year - could be having an impact on the news too. Certainly on which bits of it people read, anyway.

Stories with catchy headlines have always, er, done well, but the Facebook apps have turbocharged the process by prioritising stories on their viral factor rather than their timeliness or importance.

It tallies with reports from newspapers of how their Facebook apps have boosted page views, almost doubling traffic to the Independent from Facebook, for example. The papers, eager for any readers, will obviously be happy with the page views, but it is making them look a bit silly.

Perhaps Facebook will start include the date of stories in shares, but even then it's just another part of the web jostling and reshaping the press. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
That dreaded syncing feeling: Will Microsoft EVER fix OneDrive?
Microsoft's long history of broken Windows sync
Mozilla, EFF, Cisco back free-as-in-FREE-BEER SSL cert authority
Let’s Encrypt to give HTTPS-everywhere a boost in 2015
SLURP! Flick your TONGUE around our LOLLIPOP – Google
Android 5 is coming – IF you're lucky enough to have the right gadget
Nokia's N1 fondleslab's HIDDEN BRILLIANCE: The 'Z Launcher'
Sugarcoating Android's Lollipop makes tab easier to swallow
Bug fixes! Get your APPLE BUG FIXES! iOS and OS X updates right here!
Yosemite fixes Wi-Fi hiccup, older iOS devices get performance boost
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
Meet Windows 10's new UI for OneDrive – also known as File Explorer
New preview build continues Redmond's retreat to the desktop
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.