Facebook Reader Won't Be the Google Replacement of Your Dreams

Rebecca Greenfield
The Atlantic Wire
Facebook Reader Won't Be the Google Replacement of Your Dreams

Facebook has joined the crowd of tech companies looking to snatch up forlorn Google fans with its own "Reader" product — but it sounds far from the RSS feed replacement your looking for. The Facebook Reader will take News Feed stories and put them into a FlipBoard type app, reports the Wall Street Journal's Evelyn M. Rusli. In other words, this is not a bunch of website RSS feeds all put into one Facebook designed app, rather it's a different way to look at news stories from your News Feed. People love Readers because the news doesn't come through some "social" meritocracy. Rather, all stories from the sites (or feeds) of your choosing show up. Facebook, however, wants to socialize that experience. 

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has before called his social network "the best personalized newspaper," which sounds a lot like an RSS feed, but is pretty much the opposite of what people who get their news like that want. A well-organized Reader is the "best personalized newspaper" that pulls together a bunch of different news sources for a person to pick and choose the headlines they want to click — after reading all the options. In Facebook-land the "best personalized newspaper" shows you stories based on what friends have opted to share, like Twitter. Or, it could work like Reddit, putting together links that are trending on Facebook, as TechCrunch's John Constine suggested. Those things are certainly useful — and people who like to get information that way will welcome a better way to find it all — but it's not the way Reader obsessives consume news.

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In addition, there's one other tiny problem for Reader fans: Facebook Reader isn't ready yet. With Google Reader out of commission starting in one week, former GReaders need a replacement ASAP. Rumormongers hoped the announcement might come during last week's Instavid launch. But, from the sounds of it, Facebook Reader has no launch date in site: "It's unclear when Facebook will be ready to unveil the product, if it ever is," writes Rusli.