Facebook The Friendly Dog Bears New Publishing Platform

13 May Facebook The Friendly Dog Bears New Publishing Platform

The best thing ever said about Facebook by a journalist was when the late New York Times columnist David Carr wrote last year about the social media giant’s offer of a life raft to publishers seeking to optimize their content for mobile devices.

“For publishers, Facebook is a bit like that big dog galloping toward you in the park,” Carr wrote last fall. “More often than not, it’s hard to tell whether he wants to play with you or eat you.”

At that time, Facebook was on what Carr described as a “listening tour” with publishers. Tuesday, the world found out what Facebook apparently heard from those publishers:

They wanted Facebook to publish their content for them.

Facebook Instant Articles

Our Fearless Leader Mark Zuckerberg’s team announced Monday a publishing platform called Instant Articles, which bills itself as the solution to the problem of slow-loading web content on mobile devices. So, rather than posting a link to their stories on Facebook, outfits like The New York Times will publish directly on Facebook, reducing load time by orders of magnitude and generally improving the user experience. The New York Times, BuzzFeed, National Geographic, NBC, and The Atlantic are among the publishers already on board.

“As more people get their news on mobile devices, we want to make the experience faster and richer on Facebook. People share a lot of articles on Facebook, particularly on our mobile app,” Facebook product manager Michael Reckhow wrote. “To date, however, these stories take an average of eight seconds to load, by far the slowest single content type on Facebook. Instant Articles makes the reading experience as much as ten times faster than standard mobile web articles.”

Which all sounds well and good — Who doesn’t want their content to be easier to access? — until you get to the question of who, exactly, owns the ad space associated with this content. The whole publishing business is built around owning the space advertisers can buy, so if you don’t own Facebook, why publish there?

All About The User?

Facebook says Instant Articles is aimed at improving the user experience, not swallowing up publishing empires, and publishers will be allowed to sell their own ads just like always.

“Instant Articles lets them deliver fast, interactive articles while maintaining control of their content and business models,” Facebook’s Chief Product Officer Chris Cox wrote.

And if that’s all there is to this, then it’s a win for Facebook, publishers, and consumers. But what happens when the dog gets hungry?

Learn more:

Mashable’s take on Instant Articles.

Business Insider on Snapchat Discover.