Commentary

Facebook Woos Journos with Signal

With their insatiable appetite for constant updates and tiny attention spans, journalists naturally gravitated to Twitter when it launched and have been some of its most dedicated users ever since. But now the microblogging site is facing new competition from Facebook, which hopes to pry journalists away from Twitter with Signal, a new feature that provides a real time view of what’s happening the Facebook universe, including Instagram.

Signal allows journalists to monitor and curate trending topics and content including photos, videos, and public posts on Facebook and Instagram, presented in chronological order. According to Facebook media partnership director Andy Mitchell, journos can also access lists showing which public figures are mentioned the most on Facebook, including politicians, authors, actors, musicians, athletes, sports teams, and so on.

On Instagram, journos can use hashtags for location- or topic-specific searches, and can display these on an interactive global map. Relevant Facebook and Instagram content can be saved in custom collections for later use; Signal also makes it easier to embed content for publication or broadcast.

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Earlier this month, Facebook revealed it is making Mentions and Live features available to public figures with verified profiles. That means professional journalists and other public figures can use Mentions and Live to reach Facebook users directly and interact with them in real-time. The new live streaming function allows journos to do live broadcasts, for example with on-site reporting, or conducting interactive interviews with live Q&A sessions.

Twitter is making similar moves. In June it previewed a new feature, dubbed “Project Lightning,” that allows Twitter and its users to aggregate content around events in curated spaces on the platform, including photos and videos. Project Lightning also enables users to share the curated content outside Twitter by embedding them on other sites as well as within third party apps.

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