Facebook announced last week that it will be making changes to its news feed that will start showing users more posts from their friends and fewer posts from pages and brands. This has sent shockwaves throughout the media industry because a significant percentage of people get all their news through Facebook.
Facebook has been itching to get out of the news business so much that they are actually acknowledging that this move will mean users spend less time on Facebook. The company says they want to improve the quality of the time spent on the site, but the truth is probably much more simple, the tech giant doesn’t want to be a media company.
So, now that Facebook is getting out of the news business and you’ll be spending less time on Facebook, I’d like to offer up a few suggestions for what you can do with the time you will no longer be spending endlessly scrolling through your Facebook page. This will be particularly helpful if you are one of the millions of Americans who only gets news from Facebook. I doubt you will be spending less time on the Internet, so here are a few sites you will want to hit up to stay informed now that the news isn’t just going to pop up in your feed as much.
LOCAL NEWS WEBSITES
Back before social media existed, if you wanted to know what was going on in your city or town, you had to visit a local news organization’s website. This needs to become a part of your life again. Now, I know since you’ve been relying on Facebook to deliver your news, you may need a little primer on where to go. Not a problem. If you aren’t sure where to find local news, you can subscribe to a local newspaper here. Even if you don’t subscribe, this website will tell you what some of your local newspapers are, so that you can visit their websites.
Alternatively, you can visit NewsNerdz, a news aggregator that draws from a number of local and national sources. The site also hosts a sources list of legitimate news organizations in all 50 states. Once you have located news sources in your area, many of them have email blasts or newsletters you can sign up for to have your local news delivered to your inbox. Some of them may even have an app you can download to have your news delivered to your phone.
At any rate, since Facebook will be showing you news that your friends share, but not necessarily news shared by news organizations, visiting your local news websites should become a regular part of your news diet again so that you can make sure you are following real news and not just relying on Crazy Cousin Jen’s conspiracy blogs.
Now that you won’t be spending as much time on Facebook, you have time to explore the wonderful world of Twitter. If you haven’t made the leap and started using it — or if you tried it before and didn’t like it — now is a great time to give it another look. You have 280 characters now instead of 140, which is plenty of space to post a status and your Twitter feed, while still controlled by an algorithm, is a little more honest than Facebook’s. For the most part, Twitter shows you a stream of the most recent tweets.
You can also use Twitter’s trending topics to keep up with what is going on in the world, and since news organizations and journalists are obsessed with Twitter, it is actually an effective way to stay on top of both local and national news.
Again, if you’re not spending as much of your day on Facebook, feel free to explore other social networks. Reddit calls itself “The Frontpage of the Internet” and it isn’t hard to see why. Articles and links posted on Reddit are upvoted by readers, so if there’s a topic people are talking about, you’re going to see it on reddit. Most communities have a subreddit where local news is being posted and upvoted.
While this may not keep you away from fake news, redditors vote on stories by using the site’s upvote and downvote features, so it has some built-in self policing policies. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, reddit’s users control the content, not an algorithm. This is really a more human-centric method of sharing news stories and is more true to how people share news offline.
News junkies and journalists know all about Google News, but for the average person it is a hidden gem. Type news.google.com into your web browser and you will be taken to Google’s news aggregator. Here Google crawls news websites almost in realtime and presents them in a feed you can personalize. It isn’t perfect, but if you are struggling to find ways to stay informed now that Facebook is getting out of the news business, checking Google news each day will make you much more informed.
Last, but not least, since Facebook is going to be relying heavily on your friends to share news, you’re going to want to keep Snopes.com handy. This is a fact-checking site, so when Crazy Cousin Jen posts something she believes is “news,” you can go to Snopes and see if there is any validity to her claims.