In another amazing twist of algorithm changes, Flipboard, the beloved newsfeed aggregator will be crippled by Facebook’s new algorithms by April 2015. The reason? Facebook wants you to see their adverts and there is no way of doing so within Flipboard itself.
Social Magazine no longer Social
Flipboard was one of the very first social/news aggregator that came out at the time of iPad 1, it was a hit and became a killer go-to app for the iPad. It wasn’t until two years later that Flipboard was introduced as an Android app on Samsung Galaxy devices before making its prime time debut on the Google Playstore.
Today, Flipboard is available even on Windows mobile and Web browser for all PCs. It has certainly gone a long way. Over the years, Flipboard added innovations such as the curated magazine, where you could literally curate and add content to your own social magazine which can then be shared with customers, friends or the public.
Facebook’s Paper Versus Flipboard
Facebook released the Paper app on iOS over 2 years ago with Flipboard like news aggregation, except that it was more restrictive and didn’t allow you to add custom news channels.
Flipboard on the other hand allowed you to add your Facebook and G+ newsfeeds so that you don’t have to go to the dedicated apps to read your timeline updates. This meant that people could stop using Facebook app and turn to Flipboard as the news reader for both social and news items, after all, Flipboard serves up its own ads while removing ad streams from Facebook. This became a huge problem as Facebook took this as a revenue leakage. So it had to plugged.
Starting late April, your Facebook account on Flipboard will only show up newsfeeds from Pages and Groups that you follow. Your personal newsfeed to the Flipboard will be crippled. Nothing will show up if you want to know who commented on your post or about friends who post stuff to your newsfeed.
New user of Flipboard after April will not be able to add Facebook as a news channel even if it’s only for Groups and Pages you follow. This has been officially crippled so if you want to have some news from Facebook after May 2015, you better add your Facebook newsfeed to Flipboard now!
Facebook to get more Aggressive with Content Feed
Content is king. Facebook doesn’t create any so it has no way to keep you glued to their mobile app unless it’s about USG. All user generated content is free for use on Facebook, unless of course when it is copy protected music or movies, you can’t share them.
Content on Facebook is vaporous at best. There is no way to search out old news or postings from other users unless you have added that on your own timeline. This degrades the content aggregation possibilities within the Facebook app whereas on Flipboard, you can virtually read anything posted and flip that into your own social magazine for sharing later or for bookmarking purposes.
Facebook’s attempt with the Paper mobile app is probably the closest it gets to being a Flipboard wannabe, while it achieves some news aggregation, it still has to be shared onto your own timeline to be ‘logged’ and searchable. Sharing it is entirely up to you, you can do it publicly or with friends or family only.
So far, Facebook’s Paper app seems to be doomed to development hell. It has not made it’s debut worldwide or for that matter, outside of the iOS ecosystem. It has poor newsfeed refresh rates for curated news items and will face the same problem as Flipboard as content belonging to news agencies will have to paid for in some ways. Flipboard gets around this with a truncated content summary by asking you to hit the link to read more. Facebook’s Paper app is taking this same route but with less success, thanks largely to the limited curated feed approved by Facebook itself.
Facebook’s crippling of Flipboard’s newsfeed channels is not the end of it all. You can still curate and make your own social magazine and sharing that on Facebook. You can still post links to your Facebook account directly with the Flipboard app as well.
What annoys me most is that none of these news aggregators are paying for the content being carried on their news channels. Instead, they will try to reposition the content and sell adverts to support it, just like Flipboard does when you suddenly see an advert popping up midway through reading a content feed.
Content development is a thankless task and it’s kinda funny to see how these two duke it out with content they never paid a cent for but wants your eyeballs for it.