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Facebook News Feed becomes personal newspaper

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Facebook on Thursday began transforming the stream of updates from friends at home pages into a "personalized newspaper" with news ranging from the personal to the global.

The News Feed on home pages at the leading social network was revamped to get rid of clutter and present "bright, beautiful" stories whether they are insights from friends or trending news of the day.

"I think there is a special place in the world for this sort of personalized newspaper," Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said in introducing the overhauled News Feed.

"It should have a front page and top news section or let you drill down into any topic you want."

Facebook began rolling out the new News Feed "very slowly" at its website reached by desktop or laptop and planned to begin adding it to its smartphone and tablet applications in the coming weeks.

Each News Feed will automatically be tuned to the interests of individual Facebook users, according to technical lead Chris Struhar.

Pictures in the feed will be gleaned from posts by friends or online pages people have indicated the "like."

If a Facebook user follows pages from CNN or other professional media organizations, top shared or trending stories are displayed.

Music or film lovers should see News Feeds touting fresh developments regarding bands, stars, movies, songs or other related subjects.

Struhar told AFP that "we hope you get all you need" without having to leave Facebook to seek stories at websites such as Google News or Yahoo! News.

"We've spent a lot of time talking to the people who use News Feed every day," Struhar said. "They want more choice and more control over stories they are seeing on their home pages."

While the amount of content shared at Facebook has soared, the amount of time people have to spend at the social network remains limited, inspiring the drive to more efficiently connect people with news they most care about, according to Facebook.

"It is designed for the way we are sharing today and the trends we see going forward," Zuckerberg said. "I don't foresee Facebook offering its own content."

There were no plans to change the number of ads displayed at the website as part of the overhaul, according to Zuckerberg.

"Back when we started News Feed it as primarily made up of text," Zuckerberg said. "Now that we all have cameras in our pockets, in our phones, the majority of this content is photos."

Since the end of 2011, the percentage of News Feed posts devoted to sharing Web pages has risen to 25 to 30 percent, according to Facebook.

"Of course we all want to share with our friends, but we want updates from our favorite publications, artist, world leaders and more," Zuckerberg said. "This is the evolving face of News Feed."

News Feed will give more prominence to major stories being shared by friends in the social network; trends at third-party applications such as Pinterest or Instagram, and weave in important personal bits such as a cousin with a new job.

"When I wake up in the morning and see all my friends are sharing the exact same news story or video, I know it must be something big," said Facebook director of design Julie Zhuo.

"You get a richer, simpler, more beautiful News Feed focused on the things you care about, what your friends are saying, and what is trending."

As a result of placing ads in its mobile Newsfeed, Facebook earned more US mobile display revenue than any other ad publisher last year, according to industry tracker eMarketer.

The Menlo Park, California-based company took 18.4 percent of US mobile display advertising market in 2012, eMarketer estimated.

Google's mobile display business is also growing quickly and eMarketer estimated the Internet giant had a 17 percent share.

The US mobile advertising market more than doubled to $4 billion last year and was projected by eMarketer to climb to $7.19 billion this year.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130307/facebook-news-feed-becomes-personal-newspaper-0