There’s an old aphorism that says, “Twitter is where news breaks, Facebook is where news goes.” The implication is that, for a truly real-time newsgathering experience there’s no substitute for the immersive, instantaneous nature of Twitter.
The problem we’ve seen with Twitter, however, is that it’s too fast. During breaking news events, like Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombing, Twitter often becomes a stage for false, unverified information. And while these falsehoods are often corrected just as quickly, thousands of retweets later it’s too late.
That’s only one of the reasons FB Newswire, Facebook’s just-announced partnership with Storyful, is so compelling. If you’ve never heard of Storyful (or, like many, get it confused with Storify) it’s a tool for discovering and, more importantly, verifying newsworthy social media content. (You can read more about Storyful’s verification process here). Under the new partnership, these presumably-authenticated on-the-ground reports, photos, and videos will then be collected on the FB Newswire Facebook page.
The partnership seems like a win-win: Storyful gets a powerful, far-reaching platform for its verification service, while Facebook gives journalists and the savviest readers a reason to go to Facebook for news first instead of Twitter. Not that Facebook is exactly behind Twitter as a source for news. Although fifty-two percent of Twitter users say they get news from Twitter, compared to forty-seven percent for Facebook, far more people in-aggregate use Facebook as a news platform. According to Pew, thirty percent of U.S. adults get news from Facebook compared to only eight percent who get it from Twitter.
The play here is more for journalists who, despite the fact that Facebook drives far more traffic than Twitter, are always told they’ve got to have a Twitter account. (In my short career as a journalist in the social media era, I’ve never been told I have to have a Facebook account). As then-Washington Post journalist Ezra Klein wrote last November, it’s self-perpetuating: With all of journalists’ colleagues tweeting and retweeting articles, Twitter is the best way to ensure they’re part of the conversation, at least within their own professional circles.
If FB Newswire proves to be a valuable professional tool, it may steal some of that conversation away from Twitter to Facebook. Which is also good news for journalists: After all, that’s where most of their readers already are.
[Illustration by Hallie Bateman for Pando]