Facebook Instant Articles is here… god damnit

Here’s hoping this is my last post about Facebook for a while. I’m sick of typing it.

So, they’ve launched their Instant Articles function, for now exclusively available on the iPhone app with only a few news publishers testing the waters.

Admittedly, I can’t find anything overtly sinister being said about this new program. but I still don’t trust it, or what it means for the future of the online news industry. Facebook is the world’s most prevalent social networking site. It holds a lot of power. Even more power in regards to news generation and propagation than I could have dared to guess, since it seems that 88% of millennials and almost half of all web-using adults in general, use Facebook to find news.

Here is a break down of the good tolerable ok for now, the bad and the ugly of Facebook’s new news do-hicky.

the ok for now

  • Publishers can track their own analytics.
  • Publishers can choose whether they want to use Facebook’s ad network or if they want to keep their revenue by selling their own ad-space as they would off-Facebook.
  • Instant Articles load faster than outside linked articles.

the bad

  • Facebook’s Newsfeed algorithms are anything but a meritocracy.
    • Facebook decides what makes it to the news feeds, and it’s certainly in their best interest to prioritize Instant Articles over outside-linked articles. Here’s why:
      • they retains more data
      • they collect more money when publishers use Facebook’s ad network
      • they want to keep the readers in the Facebook site.
  • Facebook has a history of using “bait-and-switch” tactics such as waiting for publishers to become reliant on their system before changing the rules to greatly benefit Facebook and make things harder for publishers.
  • They have the potential to turn the news feed into a pay-to-play system if they start de-prioritizing articles/publishers who don’t subscribe to their ad-network

the ugly

As of this moment, the perks of faster load-times, the huge audience potential and all the sugar-coated (for now) regulations outweigh the potential risks. I think this is here to stay. I hope a better system/platform/whats-it will come of it after the inevitable draw-backs, censorship and copyright fall-out comes to a head.

For anyone else who’s sick of the word Facebook, here are some links alternatives (and their descriptions) that are floating around the interwebs trying to make a name for themselves:

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