Using Facebook As A News Aggregator In Two Simple Steps

newsfeed_fb1Facebook has been frought by privacy concerns within the past month.  Some people have deactivated their accounts, or tuned up their skills to keep their profiles more private and restricted.   However this post isn’t about privacy, or how to delete your account.

Personally i feel that you should use the platform (or any platform for that matter) and tools to your advantage instead of worrying about issues that you can’t really control.  What you CAN control is:

  • Your privacy settigs. (once you’ve developed those skills)
  • You have complete control over what you share or post.  Just make sure you don’t  make anything public that you’ll regret.
  • Most importantly you have control over what you’d like to see in your stream.  (Facebook doesn’t offer too many filters, but enough to morph your News Feed into a news aggegator)

Note:  I’m NOT deactivating my Facebook account as the people and content there provide more than enough value for me to stay.  Rather i’ve set up my account to receive news and updates from friends and news sites across the Facebook Platform.

I think you might benefit from this as well, and make Facebook a one stop shop for all your requirements.   This is great for busy people on the go as well.

Step 1:  Setting Your Signal Up For A Funnel Of News

add_feed_nyYour first step is to add or as Facebook call’s it “Like” some of the pages you are interested in receiving news from.  For example if i type in “The New York Times” into the search bar i get a return query of just that exact page.  Now all i need to do is “Like” that page after clicking through.  Note that by liking you are becoming a fan of that page.    Similarly you need to repeat those steps until you add about 15-20 pages that are relevant for your news feed.  Here are some pages that i’ve added that might help you get started with your feed.

  • CNN International
  • BBC News
  • Faster Times
  • The Guardian News
  • Telepgraph News
  • Harvard Business Review
  • Business Insider
  • The Economist

Again go ahead and add what’s relevant for you.  This could be a group of friends / early adopters / musicians et cetera that you’d like to watch closely.

Step 2:  Editing Your Home NewsFeed Options

If you’re reading you should know there is a difference between your Profile and Home feed.  We will concentrate on the Home feed for now.  Navigate over your home feed and on the bottom look for “Edit Options”.  Why you need to do this? Simply because the  Live Feed automatically determines which friends to include based on who Facebook thinks you want to hear from most.

livefeed-settings

Refer to the above screen -shot for help.  In the “Show More” field start typing in the names of the companies / feeds that you’d like to show and then add them into the list.  I’d recommend adding at least 15-20 for a firehose of content.  Remember: Adding the pages to your profile by liking them in step one is crucial here or Facebook won’t pick them up in the “Show More” field.

Lastly adjust the the maximum number of friends to the positive integer 1.  This will ensure a clean signal of news feeds without the clutter of your friends updates.  Don’t worry you’ll be able to see all your friends updates in the “Top News” section of your Home News Feed.

All you have to do now is save your options and navigate to the “Most Recent items” (there is a difference between most recent items, and top news) in your NewsFeed.  You’ve now  managed to setup a news aggregator successfully on Facebook to track all the relevant news and views that interest you.

Most importantly you now have a clean signal of friends, family and NEWS to start discussing and liking.  Why deactivate your account when @Facebook provides a plethora of content for your benefit?

It’s all upto you to use the tools correctly and benefit from them..

See What Everyone Is “Liking” On The Internet With One Handy Site

I found this site http://likebutton.me/ handy for aggregating useful @Facebook content on the internet from from a broad range of websites.  What’s cool is it’s a “One Stop Shop” and will save busy people alot of time, while adding a good amount of value to their experience.  This could become the default page for many Facebook users and content surfers out there.

like-universal
As we take a glimpse into the future of Facebook applications and reach this small example already reveals the power of social plugins.

By the way you can also add your own site:

add-site

Note: You must login to your account to start liking.

The Innocuous Facebook? You Decide

docs_facebook

@Facebook and the F8 Conference is causing a stir on the internet the past few days since opening it’s developers and users up to new tools and the open social graph.  These are tools by which Facebook can keep a track on it’s users; ever more so than before.  The clash of the titans is just beginning and it’s very exciting to keep abreast of what’s happening.

While i admire Facebook, especially Mark  Zuckerberg and his company’s insightful strategy to socialize the web outside of facebook there is more that’s at stake to the upper echolon of these companies.  That’s control and dominance over the world wide web.  It’s data that everyone is after, data, data, DATA.  Data in it’s raw form means nothing, it’s what the engineers do with that data is imporant.   The Rumpus has a great interview with a former employee at Facebook; and these aren’t just your average folks, they are total geniuses.

While I remain speculative about the future of Facebook two things are clear to me:   (a) most people think of companies like Facebook and Twitter as benevolent. Users tend to trust these companies to a high degree, like the blind leading the blind.  (b) Developers are going to have alot of cool new stuff to work with, they’re going to have the most fun not us.  The release of new APIs allows these developers to build innovative products and services for cosumers.

However, it’s important for us (as end users) to have both views on the two faces of facebook and judge for ourselves, and that’s essentially what this post is about.  After all without people there would be no social networks.

Aza Raskin points out that our identity is too important for just one company to own, and that’s precisely the point.   Our social graph in it’s entirety perpetuated with the new social plugins (likes, etc) all point back to Facebook database.  With data centers across the US and the world it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s happening.

Referring to a piece by the @thefastertimes it makes you wonder about the real value that Facebook appears to be adding.

But in the process (of adding value to social), Facebook controls our identities with no relationship to our true identities online – that list above from email addresses to blogs to photos. Indeed, I’d argue that Facebook separates us from our trueidentities, for that is in Facebook’s favor; it gives Facebook control.

The obvious privacy issues as well have been a main concern revolving around this titan for many years, remember the Beacon Project which got discontinued?  @MattCutts A Google employee tweets:

I just deactivated my Facebook account using the guide at http://goo.gl/rhpE Not hard to do & you can still revive it later.

Which brings us to another relevant point.  How Open is really Open?  Perhaps not as open as you think as @rizzn reports:

3) Facebook, with the Open Graph API, will force every private silo of data to do what Facebook itself refuses to do: Open up. This is probably the most key takeaway anyone who’s a fan of Open can come away with from this keynote, and probably something that was the most glossed over by everyone I talked to today. In case you missed it, it’s a move by Facebook, using their market-dominant position in terms of the social web and attention, to force content sites like Pandora, IMDB, Last.FM and even basic content developers, to use principles of the Semantic web to expose the data in their silos (i.e., on the profile page for Green Day, tagging and category data is exposed in the HTML on Pandora’s website). By contrast, Facebook exposes some data via their API, but not in a truly Open sense in the way that Google or even Twitter do.

If you dig a little more there’s more to the story.  In reference to Dr. Arnab post @SarahinTampa gives us more insight on the like button and how you can trick people into liking a story, even pages they haven’t visitied.  This could perpetuate a fear users not to use the like button as well as give spammers and content farmers new methods to fuel their deceptive crafts.  @marshallk briefly posts that other companies are onto this, thus giving rise to OpenLike: All-Star Team to Challenge Facebook’s Expansion.

Keeping an open mind and looking at the facts is the best way to understand what’s really going on, and that’s exactly what i’m trying to do here; in spite of all my recent activity on the world’s largest and most dominant social network.

While i’ve cited my own thoughts and perspectives from people whom i admire I ran across this comment just now which gives us a different perspective all together:

Are you saying that Facebook chose new meta tags to make people edit their web pages so they find it convenient to add a Like button in the process ?
I actually think the reverse is going to happen. People will want to add Like buttons and in the process of doing so they will enrich the web with semantics. Publishing compelling information about your site to a large audience is really good motivation.
Any site can read the meta tags. I am sure Google will and MySpace and anyone else wanting to present a richer experience for end users in an ocean of links.
I don’t think Facebook is opposed to using microformats either. There are many microformat lovers inside FB who will be championing this – so far adoption is not too widespread
Also I definitely think its important for people to NOT present this as a standard. Its a just a proposed protocol and we are encouraging a transparent process now that our contribution is announced.. this is the opportunity to work together and enrich the web.

Are you saying that Facebook chose new meta tags to make people edit their web pages so they find it convenient to add a Like button in the process ?

I actually think the reverse is going to happen. People will want to add Like buttons and in the process of doing so they will enrich the web with semantics. Publishing compelling information about your site to a large audience is really good motivation.

Any site can read the meta tags. I am sure Google will and MySpace and anyone else wanting to present a richer experience for end users in an ocean of links.

I don’t think Facebook is opposed to using microformats either. There are many microformat lovers inside FB who will be championing this – so far adoption is not too widespread

Also I definitely think its important for people to NOT present this as a standard. Its a just a proposed protocol and we are encouraging a transparent process now that our contribution is announced.. this is the opportunity to work together and enrich the web.

If you look closely enough you’ll see that in many cases what appears to be isn’t what it really is.  Or is it?

In Short: Monday’s Curated Tech — 04.19.10

Start your week off on the right foot with memorable links into the world of tech and beyond.  For more observations, links and insight follow @Tech_Blend on @Twitter .

The train that never stops at a station

The train that never stops at a stationExcellent concept, watch the video on You Tube here.

Why Google can’t out-open Facebook with XAuth – Why should Google be so worried about Facebook? It really boils down to an obvious truth. Facebook is about people, and Google is about the algorithm.

Adobe CEO: Flash coming to Android, WebOS and BlackBerry ‘smartphones and tablets’ in 2H 2010The blog of Adobe’s Lee Brimelow gives us a likely reason for the delay: Flash Player 10.1 for Android has just entered private beta, as has AIR 2.0, with public betas on the way.

Making AJAX Applications CrawlableGoogle code always has interesting information, this one’s great for Ajax developers.

Facebook will this week launch ads based on user’s browser historyUseful hint as to what we might be hearing about at the f8 conference.

Google’s unorthodox press release raises questions – Google’s short statement wasn’t the only surprise on Thursday. Eric Schmidt, its chief executive, did not appear on the conference call with media and analysts, disappointing those looking for guidance from the top.

Innovation in emerging markets: The world turned upside downCheap hands rivals rich countries in innovation.

Chatroulette Founder: All Your Chats Are Belong To MeFounder Andey wants his users to stay and chat on his app, rather than taking it to Facebook.  Read more on what this boy genius is going to do with all the VC money he’s raised.

Twitter’s “Public Interest Graph”John Battelle’s thoughts on f8, and the very powerful Google Concept – the public interest graph.

Bonus .. (Updated 12:52 / 24 hr display +5 GMT)

XAuth: The Open Web Fires a Shot Against Facebook Connect – this is like facebook connect but for every other social network.  Twitter and Facebook opt out of the consortium of companies including Google, Meebo, MySpace, and Yahoo.

The truth about Mac malware. It’s a joke – I have a new hobby. It’s slightly geeky but it shouldn’t take up too much of my time I have discovered. I like to catalogue Apple Mac malware.

2007 TechCrunch 40: Where Are They Now?Cool info-graphic with stats on the Original Techcrunch 40 Startups.  Some included: Mint; Flock; Zobni; DocStoc.