Further positioning itself as a platform for newsmakers, Facebook is making its Mentions and Live features available to public figures with verified profiles.
Going forward, professional journalists and other public figures can use Mentions and Live to reach Facebook users directly and interact with them in real-time.
“With Live, you can report from the scene, host a Q&A and connect in real time with your followers,” Vadim Lavrusi and Hursh Agrawal, a product manager and software engineer at Facebook, explain in a new blog post.
Mentions lets those with verified profiles choose the size and makeup of the audience with whom they want to share particular content.
For Facebook, the changes are part of a larger strategy to establish itself as a destination for news and the people who make it.
Along with its existing Instant Articles push, Facebook is reportedly working on a new standalone app that will blast breaking news alerts provided by partner publishers.
The new changes, however, could further irk publishers and critics who argue that Facebook is taking too prominent position in the news consumption process.
Michael Wolff recently addressed the Faustian implications of working with Facebook. As he wrote in the MIT Technology Review: “It is not only that this syndication arrangement gives [publishers like The New York] Times no direct payments, but ‘instant articles’ and other platform distribution deals move the business another step closer toward what Ken Doctor … calls ‘off news site’ reading.”
Not long ago, Ezra Klein also wrote about the negative implications of such partnerships, arguing that once media brands surrender distribution control to Facebook and other platforms, they’ll never get it back.
Yet, many publishers seem to believe that the benefits of working with Facebook outweigh the risks.
“Facebook is a huge, huge traffic driver,” Charlie Echeverry, CRO of Latino-focus tech media startup mitú, recently told attendees of OMMA Los Angeles. “Huge,” agreed Jeff Browning, senior vice-president ofsSales for Endemol Beyond USA, and a fellow panelist at OMMA LA.
Facebook’s command over audiences has become so great that some publishers have questioned the rationale for running their own sites. “What do I even need an [owned and operated Web site] for anymore?” the question, Echeverry said, on many a publisher’s mind.
In response to Facebook’s efforts, Google and Twitter are reportedly appealing to publishers to show “instant articles” to their many users. Like Facebook’s own “Instant Articles” effort, the duo is promising publishers that their participation in the program with guarantee faster and more reliable delivery of news stories.