Facebook is a ‘user-first’ platform, that’s pretty much evident for all the updates it is continuing to roll out. But for publishers, it hasn’t been an as active ground for latest news discussions, as perhaps Twitter. And as Facebook continues to experiment this publishing domain, it has definitely concluded this for once — ‘Paper’, its news-reading app, is definitely not the solution.
Launched in 2014, Facebook ‘Paper’ was an extension of the core social media experience laying focus on publications and news-delivery. It let users customize their reading experience by choosing from a slew of categories, including politics, technology, food, among other subjects. But the company has now retracted the news-reader from the App Store and in a message displayed to all, added that it will end support for downloaded apps on 29th July.
The app when launched in 2014, gathered immense praise from design enthusiasts, saying that the look and feel of the application was next-level. But the praise, however, didn’t seem to be enough to attract users onto the platform. While the core Facebook ecosystem showed an uprise of over 1.09 billion monthly active user in the current year, the ‘Paper’ has not been able to gather the same attention. The app never made its way over from iOS to Android, and the iOS app was also last updated in October 2015.
But, the decision to shutdown the news-reading seems very likely if you consider it from Facebook’s perspective. Instead of working on a secondary platform, the company is now trying to integrate the same publication features into their own core social experience via ‘Instant Articles‘. In the notification being sent to Paper users, it also mentions that,
We know that Paper really resonated with you–the people who used it–so we’ve tried to take the best aspects of it and incorporate them into the main Facebook app. For example, the same team that built Paper also built Instant Articles—a fast and interactive experience for reading articles in News Feed—using many of the same tools, design elements, and fundamental ideas as Paper.
In a similar short-lived attempt, Facebook had recently announced the closure of its real-time notification-based news app — ‘Notify‘. The app let its users select and receive news alerts from over 70 publishers, letting them quickly sift through short summaries or read the full article — very much alike Inshorts. But the company has in a similar statement last month announced that they are now shifting focus on integrating the app capabilities into their core offering.
And it is true, a lot of publishers have migrated to Facebook and are making use of the publishers tools to reach a wider audience. The company has surely imported some, if not all features, from Paper to Instant Articles. And even though Facebook added that it will continue to bump up the Facebook experience for publishers, but can they?
With the latest changes introduced to the News Feed, the social media giant has now promised to give more weight to friends and family over publishers. So, the company now needs to work on improvising ‘Instant Articles’ to shift the focus of users on reading more unique stories on the platform. And if Facebook fails at keeping a hold onto the publishers, it will never be able to compete with the likes of Twitter(who even though has a flailing user-base, is still the best place for news updates).