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What now? Facebook’s hired human beings to edit its newsreader app

Whatever you may think about Facebook, you can’t deny that it is pretty much king when it comes to navigating social graphs. Its Newsfeed algorithm is designed for efficiency: it maps out your relationships, tracks which friends and pages you engage with and is being constantly tweaked to make sure it shows you the most interesting content from sources you actually care about. So the fact that it has hired editors to assist with its much-rumoured newsreader app is interesting.

Paper, Facebook’s mobile-focused competitor to Flipboard, is slated to launch in the next few weeks — and according to Re/code, it won’t just be an algorithm deciding which media and stories you should read — it’ll have a human element too. The site reports that Facebook has spent the past few months hiring editors to manage up to ten different news verticals on various topics, who will be responsible for collecting a mix of top stories in the different categories for Facebook users to browse.

That isn’t to say that Facebook won’t put all its social data to use — Paper will also reportedly include rich media from your Facebook network, like Instagrams, shared links and general status updates. It’s that aspect that Facebook hopes will encourage publishers to keep sharing content on Facebook, at a time when many are complaining about reduced visibility of brand posts in users’ Newsfeeds. Re/code’s sources suggest that Paper editors will only include stories published to Facebook in their round ups of top stories in different interest areas — so, if your brand wants to get its content featured in Paper, it now has an added incentive to post more on Facebook.

In turn, this means Facebook can become more of a source of real time news and discussion — a goal it has been pursuing recently with new features like clickable hashtags and the decision to give priority to breaking and topical news from ‘high quality sources’ when populating your Newsfeed. However, while competitors like Flipboard and Zite have seen serious success with their offerings, it remains to be seen if Facebook can convince its users to download yet another app. Remember Facebook Home? No? You’re not the only one.

Author | Lauren Granger

Lauren Granger
While studying towards her Bachelor of Journalism degree at Rhodes University, Lauren gave into her fascination with everything digital. As she was more interested in creeping tech sites and Twitter than she was in picking up one of those printed things called 'newspapers', she decided to specialise in... More