Facebook’s News Reader May Debut in January

Facebook is about to launch its own mobile news reader service, called ‘Paper,’ to compete with the three-year-old Flipboard.

Facebook’s Paper, like Flipboard, will aggregate content, including news from the major dailies such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as posts from fellow Facebook users. Photo: elisabarberis/ Flickr

Reportedly Facebook news reader app may become a reality already later this month. The product would look similar to the popular app Flipboard and function as news aggregator that pulls in social updates alongside news stories from publications of interest to the user. The new app will have a newspaper-like design.

Though there’s no concrete information about the release date of the new app, rumours are the Paper app may see the light of day as soon as February 1 or later this month.

The new service, which will be known as Paper, is rumored to have been the product of “years” of work, and may also be the result of earlier failed attempts at updating Facebook user’s News Feeds.

The major update to News Feed was rolled out last year in March and emphasizes mainly the news content. The change had then triggered rumors about Facebook’s ambitions to compete with Twitter in the news-segment.

According to Mashable, “the company has used other areas of the platform to demonstrate an interest in news aggregation over the past 12 months.”

Many users expected Facebook to launch its new Paper product last year, but Re/Code reports that after the company released its refreshed News Feed to a contained group of users in March 2013, the company decided to further delay its wider rollout on account of results illuminating that user engagement had slowed.

Regardless of when Facebook decides to launch Paper, it is still unclear whether Paper will exist as a standalone app or in some other format. A Facebook spokesperson declined to offer more details, saying, “We do not comment on rumors and speculation.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly played a part in the creation of Paper app, though most of the work has largely been the work of Facebook’s News Feed team and is even said to be the “pet project” for Facebook’s VP of Product, Chris Cox. Cox has a strong desire to create a Facebook experience that people “enjoy waking up to and scanning each morning.”

However, when the social media giant redesigned News Feed last March, Mark Zuckerberg openly expressed his interest in pursuing a more holistic news experience within Facebook. “What we are trying to give everyone is a copy of the best personalized newspaper in the world,” he said about News Feed at the press announcement.

Facebook’s news reader app seems like a logical next step for the social network.

If the launch of Paper does indeed come in January, it will be the culmination of the News Feed team’s long slog toward finally shipping a finished product — something multiple sources said they had never expected to see the light of day. But after shipping, Facebook faces another challenge: Getting its audience to actually use the product, says Re/Code.

Nevertheless, according to a Pew Research study published in October, 30% of US adults get news on Facebook. Among Facebook news consumers who interact with news stories at least sometimes, 43% said they post or share links to news stories, while 60% said they Like or comment on the stories.

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