News reading on Facebook better than no reading at all

The people have spoken. The people of Facebook, that is.

Facebook users raised quite a few objections after the social media giant introduced new partnerships with online news networks. This criticism is not a new concept; when Facebook’s developers roll out a new feature, Facebook’s users roll out new objections. Such is life on the web.

But the arguments against these new “Open Graph” news applications transcend the typical “Facebook changed; oh no!” comments. Instead, they raise some interesting points about news and the way we consume it.

The technology news site ZD Net brings up one major issue.

“News is not timeless like music,” the article reads, suggesting harm in the trend of old news going viral.

This statement bears some truth. That Katy Perry song that blew up on the airwaves in September is still all over, but an article about troops surrounding Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown isn’t especially relevant anymore.

However, relevance is all relative.

There are the newsy types — the ones who read The New York Times every morning while watching CNN’s International Desk. For them, old news about Gaddafi is indeed useless. But for them, Facebook probably isn’t a primary source of news.

And then there are the gossipy types. Their idea of news includes Justin Bieber’s new hair product and that one girl in freshman math class who has way too much Facebook relationship drama.

Getting those folks to read anything about Gaddafi is golden.

Of course, few people fall neatly into these categories. But for anyone at all, reading old news is better than reading no news. For years, journalists and educators alike have been struggling to involve the uninvolved in public dialogue.

Furthermore, at what point do stories move in and out of relevance? Isn’t World War II also old news?  Most articles provide some sort of cultural insight, whether they’re hot off the press, five days old or 50 years old.

However, articles with titles like “Sex Addiction: how much is too much?” might lend more embarrassment than insight to those caught reading. The constant broadcasting of media consumption brings about an entirely new sense of self-consciousness.

I noticed it first with Spotify, when I decided I should listen something a little bit more hip than Aaron Carter as long as the world was watching. Likely, the same consciousness finds its way into people’s news consumption.

To read the same article a friend read, one must first allow the application access to their Facebook. And if they’re too reluctant to do so, the same app designed to encourage news exploration might actually deny it.

While this argument is valid, it seems inevitable that curiosity will reign supreme. More and more of my friends have thrown in the towel and taken their chances with the new app.

And for those who have yet to allow it, loopholes exist. When you’re on the Internet with Google just a click away, you don’t need Facebook to link you to trendy content.

Whether seen as a blessing or a nuisance, Facebook’s new news application undoubtedly increases readership. And in the world of awareness, any news is good news.

Reach the columnist at algrego1@asu.edu

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