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FB Newswire shows what's trending on social network, creates Ouroboros of news

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Critics of modern media like to say the industry is rife with lowest-common-denominator articles loaded with the kind of rubbish that gets shared vigorously across social networks. Advertising company and content-farmer Facebook appears to think the same, judging by its just-announced "FB Newswire" service.

The "FB Newswire" is "a resource that will make it easier for journalists and newsrooms to find, share and embed newsworthy content from Facebook in the media they produce," Facebook's director of news and global media partnerships, Andy Mitchell, wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

The service uses tech from Storyful – "the leader in social content discovery and verification" – to aggregate stuff shared on Facebook like photos, videos, and status updates.

Though FB says this will be stuff "posted by people on the front lines of major events like protests, elections and sporting events" an initial browse of the FB Newswire site shows a lot of lighthearted stories either based on second-hand content or statements culled from pages of prominent individuals that are operated by public relations teams.

Two recent stories, for instance, include a statement by American celebrity Khloe Kardashian on the 99th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, and a story about a "cat cafe" opening in New York.

"We're confident that [Storyful's] news expertise and best-in-class editorial team will help make it even easier for journalists to use compelling social content from Facebook in their newsgathering and reporting," the company wrote. "News is finding a bigger audience on Facebook than ever before."

It's worth remembering that in the mid-2000s Google had numerous similar schemes to help people figure out what content was popular on the search engine. Some of these experiments worked, like Google News and Google Trends, while others failed like Google's "Living Stories" collaboration with the New York Times, Washington Post, and other newspapers of record.

One outcome, though, was that as the Chocolate Factory grew more involved in helping its vast audience find and disseminate and share news, and many journalists changed some of their tactics to try and cream off some of the resulting viewers.

FB Newswire may be a handy service but it will also change the way journalists work. One particularly dismal future is FB Newswire highlighting a story that a multitude of journalists write about. This then gets the story put up on Google News in a prominent place.

This means more people write about the story and more readers read it and share it back to Facebook. Perhaps this resulting third-hand re-heated story will then make it onto the FB Newswire? Less news and more of a grim Ouroboros of social content slurry, we reckon. ®

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