Facebook launched a new mobile app today: Paper, a “curated visual news reader.” It’s a mobile reader for stories shared by your friends and stories picked out by editors according to categories that you pick.
From the video, it looks beautiful, presents the stories in a visually appealing way. It looks like it would be fun to browse.
But (and there’s always a “but”) I already have a really nice news reader called Flipboard on my phone, one that also allows me to choose categories and sources. I already follow categories, news outlets and people so let’s assume I won’t need Paper for that.
My friends, on the other hand, are a different story (excuse the pun.) Most of my real friends who are on social media are on Facebook and I do like the way that Facebook allows me to stay in touch with the people I know, reconnect with people I used to know, and stay abreast with what’s going on with their lives.
However, as much as I like my friends they are not the right friends to follow if I want to stay abreast, in real time, with what’s going on in the world. They’re not journalists, bloggers, photojournalists or even techies. They never break a news story for me, even if it’s of celebrity being arrested for DUI (if you call that news.)
Alex Wilhelm over on Twitter (that other social network) said that something earlier today that made a lot of sense: “What is really interesting about Paper is that it could limit newshounds use of Twitter if it can deliver content quickly enough.”
That could be true but it depends on one crucial bit: you need to be friends with the right people. I think for most people, they’re not. Like me, I assume many people are following industry leaders, news outlets, journalists and bloggers over on Twitter. In fact, I’ve make a point of curating the “right” people to follow there and I’m very happy with the people I follow especially as a source of news. I’m not about to go over to Facebook and recreate that list again (assuming that all of them can be followed and not friended on Facebook.)
So will Paper work for me? I doubt it (though I’d love to give it a try!)
One final point, dear Facebook: you have a huge advantage by having all my friends. It’s a huge advantage, and one you’re not really taking advantage of. Make me do more with my friends, not with brands or news.