Derek Thompson has a point. There is a Facebook effect on the news. And that effect is that Facebook changes the news to fit the user. If you’re going on Facebook, it’s probably not for news. And if you are going on Facebook for news, maybe you shouldn’t be. Facebook is a social media outlet, it’s primary purpose has to been to connect us on a social level. When the news saw this taking off as a place where people go to communicate, they came to Facebook to communicate the news. And Thompson has another point, that Facebook is “to remind us of ourselves and show us a reflection of the person we’d like to be.”
It is for this reason that the news across Facebook doesn’t have the most nutritional value in regards to our media diet. However, despite what’s being shared, we as the consumer are still in control. We have the “unfollow” button and can form-fit our Facebook feed using their personalization mechanisms. We need to understand these mechanisms, of course, and realize that we have to take care in what we like and click on in order to control what will be fed to us next. Otherwise, we could quickly fall into a void with nothing more than Buzzfeed and Upworthy. This is the user effect on the news. The only effect Facebook has had the news, is that Facebook has given the consumer the means to control their news intake. And it’s no surprise that Facebook-goers aren’t on Facebook to read in-depth articles on the latest International Policies. Why would they, when their best friend just posted the pictures from the wedding they were at last week? Or there’s a new video of their nephew’s first steps?
The news isn’t changing as a result of Facebook. Users just haven’t begun to use Facebook as their primary nutritional news source. For me, I will tend towards an app like Flipboard or the CNN app. Even Facebook recognizes this, as they try to address the problem with the release of Facebook Paper. Facebook can effect my news as much as they want, because I am the user. I have complete control over the media I consume, and I know where to go when I want the news.
The people who picked up the New York Times 15 years ago are the same people who will go elsewhere for news. The people who picked up People Magazine 15 years ago may go on Facebook. There’s no drastic change in consumer consumption, just where we go to consume. Just because my Facebook feed is filled with junk-media doesn’t mean it makes up my whole diet, it just may mean Facebook is where I prefer to consume junk-media.