News Analysis: Facebook, now a 6-year-old company with about 400 million users, is a major player in the way people consume news all around the world, according to ReadWriteWeb and research company Hitwise. Hitwise found that Facebook was the No. 4 source of visits to news and media sites the week of Jan. 25, after Google (17.3 percent), Yahoo (7.9 percent) and MSN (4.4 percent). Looking forward, Facebook could become a supreme recommendation engine, with users going to the Web 2.0 site to socialize, share and discuss news, and recommend products to buy.
Facebook, which turned six years old today and has some 400 million users,
is a major player in the way people consume news all around the world.
That was the premise of a Feb. 1 post by ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick,
who wrote in
reaction to Facebook's suggestion that users become
fans of news organizations that publish on Facebook,
using the social
network as their primary news reader.
Market researcher Hitwise Feb. 3 found that in fact Facebook is a lead news reader,
after Google, Yahoo and MSN search. This
stunned me: A social networking site is a leading news disseminator? Then I
did some serious thinking about this and realized it's probably true.
To handle my daily work, I grab all of my high-tech news through Google
Reader, one of the RSS feed readers Kirkpatrick said was probably going to be
replaced by Facebook over time. I receive no non-tech news through Google
Reader, which is one of my main workflow applications.
At the local level, I receive a major state newspaper. In the morning I
learn local things like who the new mayor of my hometown is and what projects
children in surrounding schools are working on, as well as news about unfortunate
accidents and tragedies that happen at the local level.
Yet everything big that breaks over the course of my 8-to-whenever
workday-not to be morbid, but the best examples I can think of now are the
deaths of Michael Jackson, Patrick Swayze and, most recently, JD Salinger-I
discovered through Facebook and Twitter. I didn't go to these sites to read
news, but rather happened on the bits by looking at Facebook News Feed or
That's the sort of serendipitous discovery that makes the Web-particularly
services with scale such as Facebook and Twitter-so powerful.
If I'm stumbling upon news on Facebook and Twitter, you might well imagine
the average Facebook user who spends 20 to 25 minutes per day on the site is
getting a lot of news through digital osmosis, if not seeking it on the social
network outright. Or what of the guy or gal who tweets 20 times a day? He or
she might spot a new trend on Twitter and click on those tweets for news. That
is another promising digital news path.
That's the anecdotal surmising. Now for some harder data. Hitwise analyst
Heather Hopkins found that Facebook was the No. 4 source of visits to News and
Media sites the week of Jan. 25, after Google (17.3 percent), Yahoo (7.9
percent) and MSN (4.4 percent).