A Facebook news reader app could give users the best tailored content
Of all the services I use, Facebook knows me best. It knows where I live, who my "friends" are, what movies I like, what my favorite bands are, where I like to go out for a drink, what sort of content I want to see when I scroll through my feed and which sources I like for news stories.
Facebook also knows that when it comes to reading news on my tablet I prefer Flipboard. Why? Well, the apps are nicely designed, pleasant to use and, because of the newspaper-like layout, provide a certain sense of occasion. The content that I get, after having carefully selected the sources and added my social network accounts, mostly suits my preferences. There is still stuff that I have to filter out but, generally speaking, Flipboard does a good job at tailoring the news content to my liking. Facebook, though, could do an even better job, if it decided to offer a rival service.
Think about it. Facebook has collected plenty of information about all of its users, which could be used to deliver tailored news content through a Flipboard-like mobile app. All the likes and shares offer valuable data, that Facebook can take advantage of to create accurate profiles for those who might use its Flipboard rival.
There would be no need to go through dozens of sources, like one has to do on Flipboard, to get the news folks want, as their preferences are already known to Facebook and, through engagement on the social network, always up to date. And, unlike Flipboard which provides a limited number of sources, every publication can join Facebook to share its published stories and, therefore, offer a larger pool of sources.
Furthermore, the other information people have provided can act as an extra filtering layer for the stuff that is shown in the app -- if you like a certain movie genre any news pertaining to it -- new releases, for instance -- can be highlighted. Flipboard does not have access to this much data to rival what Facebook could offer.
Facebook could also create another source of revenue for itself. Businesses would gladly pay to have their content showcased in such an app. And considering that it is much more difficult, or realistically impossible, to hide ads or sponsored posts in mobile apps, compared to desktop browsers, there is little to no risk of users skipping past them.
Of course, there is always the risk of dealing with GIGO -- garbage in, garbage out -- as users are not entirely honest or accurate about the stuff they really like. As a result, anything that would be displayed in Facebook's app could be of little interest to those readers. Similarly, there could also be too much data to sift through that the end results would involve a lot of guess work and poor approximation of preferences. Either outcome would do the app a major disservice, but I believe these to be the exception and not the rule.
There is no concrete information at this point regarding what such a news reading app aims to do exactly or whether it will take advantage of user data, but Facebook would be foolish not to use every resource it has on tap. So, Facebook, dazzle us and give us the news we really want to read!